Ex-diplomats, ambassadors warn new government will hurt Israel’s global standing

Over 100 former Foreign Ministry workers sign letter saying country may face ‘wide-ranging political and economic ramifications’ if incoming coalition enacts hard-right policies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City. (John Moore/Getty Images/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City. (John Moore/Getty Images/AFP)

More than 100 former Israeli diplomats and ambassadors on Wednesday signed a letter to incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning of damage to Israel’s global standing if the new government implements hard-right policies.

In the letter, published in Hebrew and English, the signatories expressed “profound concern at the serious damage to Israel’s foreign relations, its international standing and its core interests abroad emanating from what will apparently be the policy of the incoming government.”

The missive cited concerns over potential policy changes in the West Bank and the advancement of “extreme and discriminatory laws” that would allow service providers to deny service to a customer on religious grounds, as the parties that will compose the new government agreed in their coalition deals.

Without citing any specific proposals, the letter also warned that free speech and democratic values could be undermined, while adding that decisions to curb the independence of the judiciary or to reject an international treaty aimed at combating violence against women could hurt Israel’s image as a liberal and democratic country.

The former Foreign Ministry employees said they were concerned about a backlash that could harm Israel’s alliance with the US and undo the progress of the Abraham Accords normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

They also warned Israel could face sanctions and prosecution in international courts.

“Serious damage will also be inflicted on the intricate web of relations between Israel and Jewish communities throughout the world and on Israel’s international image,” the signatories said.

The fallout would include “wide-ranging political and economic ramifications” for Israel, they warned.

The document argued that a UN resolution to have the International Court of Justice weigh in on the Israel-Palestinian conflict “will be heavily influenced” by the new government’s policies and actions.

“This will also have wide-ranging repercussions on foreign investment and commercial activity in Israel, and will strengthen attempts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy,” it said.

The letter was released a day before the scheduled swearing-in of the new government, which will be the most right-wing and religious in Israel’s history.

Netanyahu has largely brushed off concerns over his incoming coalition, accusing political rivals of misrepresenting its agenda while vowing not to harm LGBTQ and other minority rights and insisting he will be the one calling the shots.

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