Israel’s new Foreign Minister (and alternate Prime Minister) Yair Lapid arrived this afternoon on June 14 to his ministry in Jerusalem for a changing-of-the-guard ceremony with outgoing Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Earlier in the day, the ministry’s staff bid goodbye to Ashkenazi. The morning farewell ceremony from Ashkenazi was quite emotional, with seniors at the ministry acknowledging his commitment over the past year to restore its status and to restore the image of Israeli diplomats. Ashkenazi himself confessed how he enjoyed working with the professional Israeli diplomats, whom he qualified as “soldiers without uniforms.”
Indeed, Ashkenazi is credited with bringing positive change to a ministry long sidelined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his associates. In the short time he served, Ashkenazi concluded a series of cooperation agreements with Arab and other countries. The alignment of several European states by Israel’s side during Operation Guardian of the Wall in Gaza was also a refreshing change for the ministry compared with past years. Ashkenazi was the first Israeli foreign minister to visit Cairo in many years, and he put much effort into nurturing ties with Jordan. Clearly, Ashkenazi took his job seriously. More than anything, Ashkenazi won the trust and appreciation of Israeli diplomats when he launched an operation for vaccinating all those serving outside of Israel, either by bringing them and their families to Israel twice for both doses of vaccination or sending vaccination doses abroad, as was the case with Israeli diplomats serving in the United States.