Israel’s ambassador on foreign policy as leadership looks set to change
A new coalition may soon take power in Israel, but that does not mean a change in the country’s foreign policy, according to Israel’s ambassador to Singapore.
“As far as foreign policy is concerned, we are about to see the continuation of previous government policies,” Sagi Karni told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” Wednesday.
This means that Israel will always want to maintain and expand the Abrahamic accords, engage with the rest of the world and “see a change” in Gaza, he said.
Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, will vote on a new government on Sunday. If successful, the coalition led by opposition party leader Yair Lapid and tech millionaire Naftali Bennett will be sworn in, toppling longest-serving Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The coalition also includes an Islamist party.
Bennett, who heads a far-right minority party, will first be prime minister, before centrist Lapid takes over after about two years.
A Lapid-Bennett government is unlikely to change Israel’s relations with other countries, Karni said.
“Our policy has made it clear that we are open and seek to have normal and good relations with all countries, including what you alluded to, the Muslim countries here in South East Asia,” a- he declared.
Muslim-majority nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and in May, issued a joint statement condemning Tel Aviv’s “violations and assaults” against Palestinians.
Karni said Israel must protect its citizens, but that it has “no quarrels” with any country in Southeast Asia.
“We would also like to expand the circle of peace to include Muslim countries in the region,” he said.
“But we cannot impose it on them,” he added. “It’s up to them to join in, and they know we’re interested, but they also have their own internal political considerations.”
Still, he noted that Israel has trade relations with Indonesia that began decades ago.
“Things can go, of course, a lot better, but that’s… up to them. We’re ready to move as soon as they’re ready,” he said.
Israel’s Yemina Party leader Naftali Bennett delivers a political statement to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem on May 30, 2021.
YONATAN SINDEL | AFP | Getty Images
But following a ceasefire, Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to the Middle East for a visit that included meetings with Israeli leaders on “our unwavering commitment to the security of Israel,” Biden said in a statement.
“I think there is very strong support from the United States for Israel,” Karni said. “Support for Israel’s right to self-defense. “
He added that developments in the Middle East, such as the Abrahamic Accords – a series of agreements between Israel and some Arab League countries – were a “very positive development” which brings stability to the region and serves the interests of the United States.
“I don’t see much change with the new Israeli cabinet coming to power next week,” he said.