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Amateur hour at the Israeli Foreign Ministry

Amateur hour at the Israeli Foreign Ministry

All things considered, Israeli officials seem relatively happy with the diplomatic support they’ve been getting from the Obama administration, and have taken to the phones to express their appreciation for U.S. help in batting back a Turkish-led bid to censure Israel via the U.N. Security Council.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, however, has taken a different tack. He apparently called U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — who has little to do with the content or politics of Security Council debates — this morning to complain about yesterday’s emergency session and what he sees as the U.N.’s unfair treatment of Israel. Trouble is, his ministry erroneously calls the presidential statement issued in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday a "resolution" in a readout posted on the ministry’s website — twice:

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman spoke today (Tuesday, 1 June 2010) with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon following the UN Security Council resolution of this morning. FM Liberman stated that the hypocrisy and double standards taking root in the international community regarding Israel are to be regretted. […]

FM Liberman stated that in light of this, the Security Council resolution is unacceptable and contributes nothing to the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East.

This isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but considering that one of the main thrusts of Israeli and U.S. diplomacy over the past 24 hours was ensuring that there was no resolution, it’s an embarrassing mistake. And it shows, I think, the extent to which the Netanyahu administration — which does employ some very effective people, such as Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren — has been hobbled by inept diplomats since its first days in office.

In another brilliant move, Lieberman’s deputy, Danny Ayalon, was among the first Israeli officials to speak out about the flotilla deaths — even though was the one who infuriated the Turks last year when he deliberately humiliated Ankara’s envoy by sitting him in a smaller chair and dressing him down in Hebrew in front of the Israeli media.

Israel seems to have rallied a bit since yesterday morning, but only, it seems, but shoving the Foreign Ministry aside and letting the professionals do the work.