Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) on Wednesday led a tour of Samaria of the foreign service school cadets, accompanied by local council head Yossi Dagan, as part of the effort to familiarize Israel’s future emissaries abroad with the realities on the ground back home. “Today you will learn about the great settlement endeavor that has risen here, you’ll see the topographic importance of the area, the coexistence in the industrial parks — in short, you can’t really represent Israel without having been here physically.”
Traditionally, Israel’s foreign service has been staffed with old guard, pro-left personnel, who on occasion sided with Israel’s opponents over issues like the value of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Hotovely, who is identified with the right-wing, pro-settlement segment of her party, has set out to change that through educating the next generation of Israeli diplomats.
Hotovely reiterated the Israeli government’s position that “the settlements are legal, and the foreign ministry has issued a legal paper on this matter. The State of Israel engages in legal construction, and all the homes are sitting either on state owned land or on legally purchased land. The State of Israel is careful not to build on private Palestinian land.”
Referring to the statement by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom Tuesday, demanding an investigation of extrajudicial executions” of Palestinian by the IDF, Hotovely said that Israel offers the following response: “For more than two years our relationship with Sweden has been at somewhat of a disconnect. In other words, we refuse visits of the Swedish foreign minister in Israel, which on the clearest level passes a sharp message to Sweden saying, You are supporting terrorism, you are providing a back wind to ISIS to act all across Europe, in Brussels, in Paris, and as we saw yesterday in [the lethal suicide bombing] in Istanbul.
“These days we find ourselves on the frontline in the war against terrorism, which you are supporting. The State of Israel has been passing very harsh messages to these elements who, instead of realizing who is on the side that struggles against terrorism and the side that really wants to guard human lives — and whomever is on the opposite side of that has disconnected from the ability to play on the Western field. This is why I view [Wallstrom’s] statements as a bad combination of folly and stupidity, which is why, in that context, the State of Israel has closed the door on official Swedish visits in Israel.”
Yossi Dagan said, regarding the Swedish foreign minister’s statements, that as an Israeli citizen and as a council head dealing with terrorism, “I am shocked by the foreign minister’s insolence, and glad to see that Israel is being clear with its messages on this matter and isn’t giving ground. I’d like to see how Sweden would have dealt with terrorism. I invite the Swedish foreign minister to Samaria, to see for herself the kind of terror the citizens of Israel are dealing with.”
Of course, in order to visit Samaria, Wallstrom would have to overcome the ban on her visits to Israel, which is just the kind of statement you get approval for before the start of the tour with a deputy minister.