Panel Slams Foreign Min. for Lack of Public Relations Plan During War

Subcommittee releases report claiming Foreign Ministry wasn't sufficiently prepared during war.

The Subcommittee for Foreign Affairs and Publicity, under the auspices of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, issued its own report on Monday, criticizing the Foreign Ministry for not preparing a proper public relations plan to explain Israel's actions during the Second Lebanon War.

The subcommittee, headed by MK Amira Dotan (Kadima), released its report in conjunction with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee report on the conduct of the war.

The subcommittee's report states that the "Foreign Ministry wasn't properly prepared, public relations-wise, for the event of an escalation on the northern front. This was manifested in the lack of a detailed public relations plan including both means of action and public relations methods, along with the primarily channels of implementation during wartime."

"The situation is particularly grave in light of the fact that intelligence estimates, which were obviously made known to the Foreign Ministry, pointed to a heightened probability of an eruption with Hezbollah in 2006," the report continued.

The report says that the primary message that Israel exported in the first days of the war placed responsibility on Lebanon for the abduction of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the cross-border raid that sparked the war.

That line was taken in opposition to the government's decision to target Hezbollah specifically, and not Lebanese infrastructure as a whole. "It was a mistake to declare and adhere to this public relations approach and threats against Lebanon, while actions on the ground proved otherwise," states the report.

The report also revealed that "after the war, no steps were taken to fix the situation. The Foreign Ministry did not carry out systematic inquiries into its own activities during the war, and is not carrying out a supervised process of lesson learning and implementation. The committee views this situation very gravely and the Foreign Ministry must act to repair it immediately."

The subcommittee "views positively the government decision of July 8, 2007 to 'establish a national public relations campaign in the Prime Minister's Office... which will coordinate all public relations players in the State of Israel'" and recommends the campaign be a permanent body in the PMO that participates in decision-making processes and government meetings.