Israel is preparing to adopt a new diplomatic strategy that is nothing short of breathtaking in its originality, according to a new report in Ynet, the Yediot Ahronot Web site. It’s all spelled out in a document that was submitted yesterday (October 8) to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Ynet reports.
The new strategy reportedly starts from the premise that there is no point in trying to forge a permanent peace accord with the Palestinians, because there is no realistic possibility of reaching agreement. Continuing to pursue futile peace negotiations, it’s feared, will create frustration in Europe and America that could lead, God forbid, to strained relations with Israel.
Instead, Israel is urged to negotiate long-term temporary agreements with the Palestinians that don’t entail Israeli withdrawal or Palestinian sovereignty. This, presumably, is a realistic possibility.
At the same time, Israel will work to improve its image around the world and end its international isolation. It will do this by focusing attention on economic and environmental matters.
“The age in which Israel could allow itself to be isolated is over,” the document says, according to Ynet.
The author of the document is said to be diplomat Naor Gilon, who was plucked out of Israel’s Washington embassy last April to become Lieberman’s chief of staff. The document reportedly will be discussed in the next few days by the Foreign Ministry’s senior staff, after which it is to be adopted formally as Israel’s official new foreign policy.
It sounds like a spoof from Yediot’s popular fake-news page, but that page only appears on Friday, so this must be intended seriously. If Ynet is right, the plan is on track to become Israel’s new diplomatic master-strategy. In essence, the plan is for Israel to explain to the rest of the world that since it has no intention of accepting a deal with the Palestinians, withdrawing from the West Bank or ending the occupation, everyone might as well calm down and accept what every single nation in the world has flatly rejected for an unbroken 42 years. The Palestinians will be asked to forget about their goals of independence and sovereignty and settle down under the Israeli rule that they have given up thousands of lives to be rid of. Avigdor Lieberman is going to explain to the European Union, the United Nations and the Arab League that they’ve all been operating under a silly misunderstanding which he would be happy to clear up.
To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be understood by a hostile world. It’s scary, though, to think that the Jewish state is now represented on the world stage by someone who’s delusional enough to think, even for a moment, that the world can magically be remade if one only wishes hard enough.
Incidentally, if the name Naor Gilon sounds familiar, here’s why: As political counsellor at the Israeli embassy in Washington, he enjoyed a moment of fame a few years ago when he came under FBI scrutiny as the suspected Israeli contact allegedly receiving classified material from former AIPAC officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman. Just the guy you want as your good will ambassador in tense times.
Jonathan Jeremy Goldberg is Editor-at-Large of the newspaper The Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007). He served in the past as U.S. bureau chief of the Israeli news magazine Jerusalem Report, managing editor of The Jewish Week of New York, as a nationally syndicated columnist in Jewish weeklies, as editor in chief of the Labor Zionist monthly Jewish Frontier, as world/national news editor of the daily Home News (now the Home News Tribune) of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and as a metro/police-beat reporter for Hamevaker, a short-lived Hebrew-language newsweekly published for the Israeli émigré community in Los Angeles.