Drifting from US, Liberman calls to diversify foreign policy

With Washington embroiled in its own problems, Israel must seek new partnerships, foreign minister says

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel needs to concentrate less on its relations with the US, and diversify its foreign partnerships, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday.

“For many years, Israel’s foreign policy has been one-directional toward Washington,” he said, speaking at the Sderot Conference for Society. “I support multi-directional foreign policy.”

Israel’s foreign policy “should not focus solely on the United States,” he added, according to Army Radio.

Liberman, who returned to his post last week after a long legal battle, went on to note that the US was busy with its own problems such as Iran and North Korea, and domestically, its economy and immigration.

He said Israel must have clear policies for initiating new foreign ties. “There needs to be a clear concept how to act in this instance,” the foreign minister remarked. “We must first of all look to have relationships with countries that do not need financial assistance, that don’t have problems in the international arena, and don’t depend on the Islamic-Arabic world. Countries that are looking for knowledge in agriculture and other areas. Our foreign policy needs to be diverse.”

The comments marked a change of emphasis by Liberman who, just last week, chastised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for engaging in a public spat with US Secretary of State John Kerry over nuclear talks with Iran.

“We need to understand that relations with US are foundations set in stone; without them we can’t maneuver in the contemporary world,” Liberman said then. “All these differences of opinion, which are natural and have always existed, should simply not be aired as publicly as they were. I think a step to calm them is important, and we will already start dealing with this tomorrow.”

Israel and the US have been at odds over a preliminary deal with Iran that would partially freeze its rogue nuclear program while easing some of the sanctions the US and other countries have placed on Tehran. At the center of the dispute is Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Israel is demanding be dismantled before Iran gets any relief from sanctions, and the heavy water plant being built at Arak, which the interim terms may allow Iran to continue to work on.

Netanyhu has repeatedly called the deal “bad” and “dangerous,” and urged the P5+1 nations not to sign it.

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