Image from article, with caption: Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on August 5, 2015.
Raphael Aren, timesofisrael.com
Only about eight percent of the Foreign Ministry’s annual budget is being used for diplomatic activity, with the rest spent on manpower, security and other logistical and administrative needs.
In 2015, just NIS 132 million ($33 million) of the ministry’s total budget of NIS 1.65 billion ($423 million) was spent on what officials call diplomatic activities: development aid, conferences and hasbara (public diplomacy). By comparison, the ministry paid significantly more — NIS 231 million ($59 million), or 14% of the annual budget — on security for Israeli missions abroad.
Those figures were revealed Tuesday during a session of the Knesset Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs and Public Diplomacy, headed by MK Michael Oren (Kulanu). ...
Oren, who as a historian has studied Israel’s international relations for decades and recently served as Israel’s ambassador to the US, called for “a sea change in Israelis’ attitude” toward foreign policy.
“In the State of Israel, for all kinds of psychological and historical reasons, we make a distinction between security and foreign policy. And yet that distinction is completely artificial,” he said. “If we don’t have strong foreign relations, then our security will be impaired. And Israel’s place in the world is crucial to our wellbeing and our future.”
Oren also questioned the wisdom of Israel spending a third of its budget for diplomatic activity in Europe. “A much greater share should go to areas of opportunities like Africa and Latin America,” he suggested. “In the UN, a vote of Rwanda is worth exactly the same as the vote of China.”
While he strongly advocates for more funds to be allocated to Israel’s diplomatic apparatus, Oren acknowledged that, on its own, a budget infusion would not fix all the Foreign Ministry’s woes.
“It’s not just a matter of throwing money at the problem. Part of the Foreign Ministry needs to be fixed, in the way it’s run, making the place more efficient. It’s not efficient. It needs an extensive, far-reaching reform. It’s aching for reform.”