Yair Lapid's foreign-policy follies

Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
The move was a political masterstroke. Despite having promised over and over again not to partner with Lapid, Bennett grabbed the opportunity to take Israel's top seat. He did so even with a rotation arrangement in place, which has Lapid scheduled to take the reins in August 2023.

The government that emerged from the above deal was the farthest-left possible alignment that could have been constructed. With every last left-wing member of Knesset, it has a razor-thin, one-seat parliamentary majority that, for the first time in Israeli history, relies on an anti-Zionist Arab party.

The government that emerged from the above deal was the farthest-left possible alignment that could have been constructed. With every last left-wing member of Knesset, it has a razor-thin, one-seat parliamentary majority that, for the first time in Israeli history, relies on an anti-Zionist Arab party.

Lapid currently serves as alternate prime minister—with veto power over government initiatives—and as foreign minister. The unwritten arrangement between him and Bennett is that the latter will handle domestic issues, while the former will deal with foreign policy.

With Bennett and most Israelis focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines and restrictions, Lapid has been free to operate without much attention or criticism from the media or general public. Since assuming office, however, he has overseen a number of highly questionable diplomatic moves.

Condemning China

In June, Israel voted at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to condemn China for its treatment of the Uyghurs. Jews should undoubtedly be the first to express deep concern over grave human rights abuses. Yet, the Israeli government should know better than to give any credence to a forum that unfairly singles out Israel for censure more than all the world's countries put together.

Secondly, Israel should think twice about angering an ascending global superpower that has taken a keen interest in investing in Israeli innovation. Israel had a unique opportunity to turn to the Chinese and say, "The U.S. and Europeans are asking us to vote against you in the UNHRC. Rather than doing that, we will gladly abstain. In return, we ask you to abstain, or better yet, protect us at the UNHRC." Instead, Israel voted against China in a meaningless resolution, without getting anything in return.

Why did Israel do it? Because the United States asked Israel to do it.

Eager to kiss up to the Biden administration, Lapid allowed his foreign-policy establishment to make an amateur error that Netanyahu would never have made.

Crisis with Poland

Lapid recently caused a major diplomatic crisis with Poland, a key ally on a European continent where support for Israeli policies is often hard to find. Poland advanced a key piece of legislation essentially ending restitution claims for those who lost property in World War II. While the law does strike sensitive nerves among Jews, Israel's creating a crisis with Poland is senseless.

Poland and other Viségrad countries provide Israel with a powerful counterbalance to Western European powers that often vote against and censure Israel in international forums over bogus claims of human rights abuses against Palestinian Arabs, and the building of suburban housing for Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria.

Developing strong alliances with the Visegrád and other states in Central and Eastern Europe was a major diplomatic achievement of the Netanyahu era. In particular, Poland has proven itself to be a strong ally of Israel, especially in security matters, including military aviation.

The Western European nations seek to weaken Israel's alliances within the Visegrád bloc. Lapid, who is eager to improve ties with the more progressive Western Europe, was happy to oblige. As a result, another opportunity to gain diplomatic advantages from an ally in important world forums was lost.

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