MK Lieberman: Israel Has No Foreign Policy, It's Total Recklessness

Lieberman, Lapid hold event on Israel's deteriorating international standing. Lieberman: PM 'attempting to destroy foreign service by force.'

MKs Avigdor Lieberman (left) and Yair Lapid at Monday's conference on Israel's foreign service.
Olivier Fitoussi

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, a former foreign minister, on Monday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of "attempting to destroy Israel's foreign ministry by force."

Lieberman was speaking at a conference he organized with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid on "Israel's deteriorating international standing," in the Knesset.

MK Lapid, a former finance minister, said at the conference that the decline in the country's foreign service and national security had been "dramatic," and that Israel's international standing was "at its lowest point since 1948."

What's even worse, Lapid added, was that the government was not aware of what was happening and was "pretending that everything is OK. But everything is not OK."

Netanyahu has held the foreign portfolio since last year's elections, with day-to-day affairs managed by Deputy Foreign Minister Tsipi Hotovely.

"It's possible to win in foreign organizations and the BBC if you know how to work," Lapid added. "But today, no one in government is even trying."

"The government has no foreign policy," Lieberman told the conference. "It's total recklessness. Closing diplomatic offices around the world at this stage is utter madness."

"The Israeli foreign ministry is no one's private property, including the Netanyahu family's," Lieberman added. "It can't just be taken and destroyed."

He accused Netanyahu of excluding Israeli ambassadors from meetings with foreign heads of state. "What status does that leave the ambassadors?" he asked. "How are they meant to feel?"

He also said that the objective of Netanyahu's decision to close the consulate in Philadelphia had been to get back at him.

Lieberman also referred to differences of opinion between cabinet ministers. "The morning [Minister of Immigrant Absorption Ze'ev] Elkin stood up against the Palestinian Authority, but [Construction Minister Yoav] Galant is in favor of the PA – you can't have three or four conflicting positions in a government.

"The prime minister is apparently heading towards rapprochement with Turkey, but the justice minister is campaigning for the establishment of a Kurdish state. It's not clear to me how one fits in with the other."

In response, Hotovely told a press conference that "Israel's foreign service doesn't interest Lieberman and Lapid. What interests them is to bash the foreign service, making cynical use of those working for the ministry.

"The link between Lieberman and Lapid is a link between 'new politics' and old politics based on cynicism," she said.