Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR)

ACPR Research – Summary


Notes on the Foreign Service of Israel

Moshe Yegar

Policy Paper No. 160,  (Hebrew) 2005


In recent months, there has been much public discussion in the Israeli media and in some academic institutions, on its Foreign Office; its function (or malfunction) and its role in the shaping of Israel’s national policy in general and its foreign policy in particular.

M. Yegar, a veteran of 40 years in Israel’s diplomatic service, addresses these issues in his above-mentioned study.

It starts with a brief historical background describing the development of the diplomatic profession and the qualities which were traditionally considered desirable for a diplomat. A discussion of the changes wrought upon the diplomatic practice since World War II by the development of modern technologies follows. The role of diplomats in all countries has undergone a most drastic change. Diplomats today deal with a variety of issues that were not dealt with by former generations. Most important – conducting negotiations, which was the major occupation of diplomats in the past, is done today, directly and mostly, by heads of states, prime ministers and foreign ministers (“Summit Diplomacy”), and not by ambassadors, as was done previously.

The development of Israel’s diplomatic service is described and analyzed in this theoretical background.

Subsequent chapters deal with the specific issues and problems of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel’s diplomatic service: its achievements and faults; its stand in the eyes of public opinion; its relationship (and difficulties) with the Prime Minister’s Office and with the Ministry of Defense; deterioration in its own practices caused by some inept Ministers and Directors-General in the area of nominations and appointments and other spheres of activity; the serious problem of leakages; the perennial unsolved issue of Hasbara; the relationship with Jewish communities; the particular way of life that is a part of the diplomatic practice; and some other problems typical of Israel’s foreign service. The author makes recommendations for improvements and reforms needed in the diplomatic service in order to bring it to the level needed by a small and besieged country like Israel, which needs effective diplomats and a good foreign office more than many other countries.

For the complete text of this article (in Hebrew), click here.