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Israel's Foreign Ministry continues to lose relevance

When Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Liberman sees diplomacy as a sign of weakness, it's no wonder that his ministry is losing relevance.
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - DECEMBER 25:  Israeli former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during the launch of the Likud-Beitenu election campaign on December 25, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently seen his party lose ground to the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi-National Union party. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
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The six most important world powers, led by the United States, signed an interim agreement with Iran on Nov. 24 that restricts the progress of its nuclear program in exchange for relaxation of the economic sanctions against it. Soon talks for a permanent agreement will get underway. While it is clear to all parties involved that the negotiations will not be easy, the current decision is to talk — not to attack. Now everyone is giving diplomacy a chance. That was also what was done with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the use of chemical weapons in Syria. You can argue about the effectiveness of this approach and view it as a sign of weakness or hesitation of the West in general and of the Obama administration in particular. But on the other hand, one has to recognize that it is a fact that needs to be addressed: The United States made a fundamental decision to completely exhaust all diplomatic avenues available and let threats of attack fall by the wayside. Regretfully, it would seem that the choice of the West to engage in talks left Israeli diplomats speechless.

In recent years, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has seen its status erode. Israeli ambassadors and consuls around the world have long been infuriated by the instructions they receive from the political echelon in Jerusalem. As public servants, however, they are forbidden from expressing their positions. On rare occasions, one of them dares to write a polite and well-reasoned diplomatic position paper, but it is doubtful that those running the ministry, including the old-new Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, grant it any importance or great influence, if any at all. 

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