"Israel" is not a democracy: Ex-Israeli MFA director-general
Not "The only democracy in the Middle East" after all.
In an interview with Foreign Policy, the former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Alon Liel, makes brazen statements that sharply cut through arguments that the Israeli establishment continues to push; Liel openly stated "Israel" is not a democracy.
"Israel always says it’s a democracy. The government always says we are the only democracy in the Middle East and we are part of the West. But in real terms, we are not a democracy with the occupation, and we are only part of the West when it suits us," Liel argued.
Within this context, "Israel" has been refusing to supply Ukraine with weapons, a move that does not align with what the West has been pressuring smaller states to do.
"Israel" has been refusing Ukrainian requests to provide Israeli weaponry against Russia, as a result of a plethora of reasons, one of them being Russian pressure. Many US and European bosses are irritated with the decision, perceiving "Israel" as an anomaly to West alignment on the war in Ukraine.
"Israel" fears that providing Ukraine with air defense systems will lead to the downing of Russian planes and the killing of pilots, which will prompt Russian President Vladimir Putin to point the finger at "Israel", according to a Haaretz article.
Due to "Israel's" recent support of Ukraine, tensions soared between "Tel Aviv" and Moscow, prompting the latter to close the "Jewish Agency for Israel's" work in Russia, giving rise to further tensions.
"Moral considerations were always secondary"
Upon being asked why "Israel" wouldn't provide Ukraine with air defense systems, Liel described Israeli decision-making as "selfish" "since day one," only looking "at its own angle." "Israel" had considerations regarding Syria, then it had considerations regarding the Jewish community in Russia, then the nuclear agreement with Iran.
When Yair Lapid became prime minister, as Liel explains, he took a more "moral approach" by supplying helmets and minor defense gear, angering Moscow. Although most of the Israeli public supports Ukraine, politicians are conscious of the security establishment, with Syria being the primary concern.
However, moral considerations, at large, were always secondary: "In Israel’s foreign policy, in which I have had decades of involvement, moral considerations were never on top and were always secondary, if they existed at all, to realpolitik considerations," Liel said.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, Liel explains that the case is no different, and that "Israel" is putting its interests first.
"If the war ends up with the West having the upper hand, everyone will remember that 'Israel' declined to be part of the effort. In fact, with this policy, we are betraying the West, but this is not the way our security establishment sees the problem," he said.
"Israel" only aligns itself with the West when it suits it
As for the occupation of the West Bank, Liel described "Israel's" occupation of the West Bank as "immoral" and that he thinks the "government is wrong on the occupation of the West Bank."
"I think some of the politicians here believe the West will not like us anyway in 20 years when we annex the territories and lose our democracy, so maybe they think, ‘Why fight with the democracies when in any event Israel won’t be a democracy.’"
Foreign Policy later asked: How important is it for "Israel" to align with the West?
"We owe everything we have to the United States—the historic political support, the historic military support, the alliance with the US, the economic support. The reason we can say we won the war with the Palestinians is because, to a great extent, the U.S. sided with us."
However, even with all this support, "Israel" continues to only align itself with the West when it suits it, deeming it "immoral" to leave the US and Europe with the burden of war only when it deems it fit.