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Israel & the Arab World: An Essay on Conflict

217878_5_The Arab world is in conflict and has been so for many decades now but where does Israel fit into the whole picture? Israel looks at the conflict with some reserve and some trepidation, owing to its many problems to try to fit in anyway.

Although one of the most powerful countries in the Middle East, issues of peace with neighbouring Palestine has been one of the centre points of lack of support for the country locally. The Arab-Israel conflict fired up in 1948 and there was no peace settlement in place, as a result of the war. This gave birth to the Israel-Palestine conflict as we see it today, not to mention three more wars in 1956, 1967 and 1973.

Israel’s response to all of the spherical negativity has been counteracting it with the gaining of more allies who shared similar visions for the region. Israel’s allies, such as Turkey and Iran, are and have been for decades now, equally concerned over pan-Arabic nationalism, and manipulating issues of minority and rivalry.

The Schengen Agreement did much for the European Union but Turkey has largely been ignored on the subject, so the last couple of years has seen it striding out further afield and into the Middle East, wishing to be a key player in the locality.

There is a lot of debate on the need for Israel to improve relations with Egypt, one of the most dominant forces in the Middle East and the debate needs to feature for the other countries as well, especially Iraq that over the years have been emerging as a powerful regional player. This is because the Egyptian leadership of the time saw the vision that Simon Peres shared in his book The New Middle East as critical and not aligned with their national interests for the region, which upon investigating deeper reveals fragile co-operation between the two Arab states, Egypt and Israel, and this is affecting the conflict.

It’s difficult to believe that economic co-operation with other Arab states can be perceived as anything but a positive attitude to tackling the Israel-Palestine conflict and its effects on the larger region but there is no escaping the truth that for some it is so. Terming it as neo-colonialism is a very stark and harsh way to put down diplomacy and democracy, because these are the only keys to the security vault. What has been found is that the positive relationship that Egypt shares with Israel is actually one that is more competitive, rather than co-operation, as soon as a political hegemony to establish lasting peace in the region is at sight.

The Iraq War has given Iran superiority in the region because now Iran can play to its strengths of the popularity it shares amongst the Shiite-dominated country. Iran and Israel have been allies as far as their perspectives on the Arab world is concerned, and “the Arab Spring” has done nothing to change this. As a result, it should be in the best interest of Israel to extend this amicability towards Iraq, as well.

Heavily criticised for his stance on the uprising, Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks along the same lines as Simon Peres. He believes in democracy and is also pro-government involvement in establishing democracy in the region, which he thinks will contribute to the two-state solution.

Netanyahu has characterised the uprising’s roots to be instability and has even acted as a prophet predicting how the uprising could eventually just take corruption and feed it to a radically Islamist state. Power and responsibility is required to address the issues faced by the Middle East due to oppressive political ideologies in practice. It is in Israel’s best interest to ensure that an anti-West, anti-Israel and anti-democratic surge does not grip the Arab World in the wake of the uprising.

219903_5_It is difficult to imagine it won’t, for the moment at least, because there has been no progress towards establishing democracy in the region. There is no food to eat, no political freedom and several acts of the uprising later, there is still no concrete solution in sight. The Obama administration has been pressurising Israel on establishing a two-state solution, even going so far as to assure Netanyahu on the prospect of normalizing relations with Egypt, following the conflict generated by the Arab uprising.

As optimistic as the American outlook has been on the issue, just like their support and encouragement, which brought Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt after the Arab spring washed off the previous corrupted regime, tensions have been flaring inbetween Israel and the United States ever since because of their opposing approaches to the conflict.

The right wing in Israel, a handful of centrists, the Netanyahu government are all doubtful of the transition to democracy in Egypt and it’s not difficult to see why. Iran gained a lot from the removal of the conservative stronghold in Egypt and on the onset of it pursuing nuclear ambitions and facing a lack of opponents, Tehran began to emerge as a strong regional player, alongside Iraq, after the American invasion.

This momentous change gave rise to fears at home in Israel, that relenquishing territorial control over Palestine would breed insecurity and instability further, as much as it’s in the interest of both parties involved to speed up the Israel-Palestine peace negotiations.

Destabilising Iran on the nuclear front, has been looked upon as a positive development in the West because it was exchanged with the release of billions of dollars of frozen Iranian assets. It’s important to have an understanding of priorities here: wealth and building the country should come before nuclear weapons. Powerful allies and excellent governance is what determines stability and security in the Middle East and this deal should not be put on a temporary resolution only, where more such exchanges are concerned.

Tehran has been the recipient of several harmful sanctions, including one placed on the sale of oil, because of its nuclear programme and Israel is also facing the risk of losing one of the few allies it has in the Arab World. Egypt as predicted by Israel is losing its economic outputs on foreign investment and tourism, and there is rising lawlessness, smuggling activities and both drugs and human trafficking present in the country, so more gravity should be attached to the “Israel point of view” to the debate on the conflict in the Arab world too.

A resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is in the interest of both the nations involved and it starts with the recognition of a separate Jewish state, not a state that has absorbed large numbers of Israelis or Palestinians because not only would that ‘rule’ be undemocratic, its economically unviable. Infrastructure investment in the West Bank is important and perhaps Israel, with its reasonable economic boom could command that for Palestine, as a friendly nation, rather than a dominative one. Focus on the economics and democracy first, and the politics later!



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