After the resolution of the political crisis in Israel, are the prospects for peace in the Middle East getting closer?

One of the most negative results obtained by Hamas with its unnecessary “11-day war” was certainly one of prioritizing the political solution to form a strong government in Israel, after four rounds of snap elections were not enough to put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the position of have the majority of seats in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.

When rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli towns and retaliatory shelling from the Jewish side ceased on May 21, thanks to the direct mediation of Egyptian President Al Sisi, Palestinian extremists from Hamas, who has ruled the Gaza Strip for 14 years, and their associates in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad not only failed to achieve one of the alleged objectives of the war operations launched without warning on May 10 – with a salute of rockets fired at major Israeli cities with the clear intention of causing civilian carnage – but they have in fact found themselves isolated in an Arab world which, apart from a rather weak manifestation of solidarity, has not taken steps to threaten – for the umpteenth time in a century – direct intervention to “destroy the Zionist entity. “.

Immediately after the end of the missile crisis, consultations between the political forces resumed in Israel, with a view to forming a government which should end the 12 years of the Netanyahu era, with the creation of a “grand coalition »Led by the head of the Yamina party (“the right”), Naftali Bennett, and by the leader of the centrist party Yesid Atid party, Yair Lapid, which will include representatives of seven parties, including representatives of the Arab-Islamic community Raam Party.

Other prominent politicians in the new Israeli government will be Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White political alliance, and Avigdor Lieberman, the former foreign minister and secretary of the Israel Beytenu Party.

With a government endowed with a large parliamentary majority, Israel will have to face the challenges left unresolved after a brief conflict from May 10 to 21 which, while seeing the failure of the military objectives of the Palestinian extremists, necessitates however the solution of problems of great geopolitical importance.

With the “Abraham Accords” of August 2020 which, under the aegis of then-US President Donald Trump and with Saudi Arabia’s pragmatic “non-opposition”, led to the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, the Arab front – once unanimously against Israel – has further fragmented, leaving Qatar, the traditional godfather of Islamic jihadist extremists and the most radical fringes of the Palestinian resistance, totally isolated and marginalized.

The most enigmatic position, for the moment, remains that of Erdogan’s Turkey.

The Turkish president probably realized that in recent years he had made too many enemies on the international stage, and his dream of making Turkey a hegemonic power at the regional level was shattered after the defeats inflicted by the Muslim Brotherhood in all the Arab states, after the failure of the false “springs” and the bloody anti-Assad insurgency which ultimately had the only real result of strengthening the Russian presence in the region and in the Mediterranean basin.

Despite sending a large naval force to the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey also missed the opportunity to participate – in a climate of cooperation – in the search for marine reserves of natural gas in the maritime area between Egypt and Cyprus. . This research also sees the participation of Israel and Greece who, along with Cyprus, have established a tripartite economic alliance which, by also co-opting Egypt from Al Sisi, could help further isolate Turkey.

It is probably for these reasons that Turkey not only did not go beyond a simple show of solidarity with the Palestinians during the “11-day war”, but also hinted that it would like to improve its diplomatic relations with Israel, considering that – despite propaganda and verbal threats – President Erdogan continues to enjoy excellent and prosperous trade relations with Israel (indeed, bilateral trade between the two countries during the crisis has even increased) .

On the other hand, only a few months ago, in December of last year, the Turkish president made a startling public statement when he admitted: “Our relations with Israel in the field of intelligence, however, do not have not stopped and still continue … We have difficulties with some people at the top (ie Netanyahu, editor’s note) ”.

This ambivalent attitude of Turkey towards Israel is similar to its attitude towards President Biden’s administration.

Despite President Erdogan’s verbal protests against the official recognition by the new American president of the Armenian genocide, with the appointment of a new pro-Western ambassador to the United States, Turkey wants to ease tensions with the United States, also by an attitude of moderation and self-restraint towards Israel. According to Israeli analyst Ely Karmon, Israel’s future policy towards Erdogan’s Turkey should be based on a “trust but verification approach”.

The most burning issue that the new Israeli government will have to deal with remains that of Iran.

The threat posed to Israel’s very survival by Iran’s nuclear program is not underestimated by any political force.

Hopes of a slowdown in Iranian nuclear research after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the agreement Iran signed in 2015 with China, France, the United States, Germany and Russia, which foresaw substantial limits on uranium enrichment in Iranian facilities – collapsed in the face of Iran’s reluctance to directly control its developments, and after Donald Trump’s decision to denounce its inefficiency.

This is the reason why Israel continued its policy of cyber-sabotage of Iranian installations and of “selective elimination” of the scientists involved in the program (the latest victim is the head of the Iranian nuclear program, Moshem Fakhrizadeh, killed at the outskirts of Tehran on November 27, 2020).

Two main representatives of Israeli intelligence, namely Ephraim Halevy, former head of Mossad, and retired General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, former head of military intelligence A man, clearly expressed their point of view on the subject. In an article published in Haaretz on April 22, 2021, they outlined what Israel’s strategy should be in dealing with the Iranian nuclear problem. On the one hand, intelligence ‘pressure’ against the program should be continued, given that it will take two years to build a nuclear weapon anyway, once acceptable levels of uranium enrichment are reached. achieved (a gesture that Iran has not yet made). On the other hand, the JCPOA should be reactivated, with new American involvement and with the support from Israel’s new positive relations with many Arab countries, in order to exert political and diplomatic pressure on Iran – also. in light of the discreet diplomatic moves recently taken by Saudi Arabia vis-à-vis Iran and Assad-ruled Syria – with the aim of improving mutual relations and reducing tensions in the South African region. Gulf, starting with the civil war in Yemen, where Iran supports the Houthi rebels.

Diplomacy is therefore underway and, in order to obtain positive results in easing regional tensions, it must take into account two other important strategic players, namely Russia and China.

Russia is now firmly established in Syria, where it intervened in 2015 to save the Assad regime from defeat to the Islamic State and where it will play a leading role in the reconstruction of the country, 75% destroyed. after a decade of civil war. – after having also firmly established itself militarily in the port of Tartous and in the air base of Khemeimim, in the north of the country.

Vladimir Putin was the first Russian president to visit Israel in 2005.

Since then he has been managing relations with Israel by granting them a “special status” and – despite some apparent disagreements – also thanks to the professional work of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, he has brought about a positive change in Russian-Israeli bilateral relations. , which makes Russia a credible counterpart on all negotiating tables in the Middle East.

The other counterpart in the increasingly influential region is President Xi Jinping’s China.

As early as the 1990s, China and Israel forged strong bilateral economic ties, particularly in the defense industry, thus sparking ill-concealed concerns in the United States.

These relations have developed alongside numerous political and economic agreements between China and the Gulf states, which has enabled China to play a growing role throughout the region.

The truce enters Hamas and Israel was negotiated by Egyptian President Al Sisi, but it was also achieved through the behind-the-scenes work done by Chinese diplomacy in the UN Security Council.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict – in a scenario that remains complex, but sees the majority of political actors engage in the search for new models of cooperation and peaceful coexistence – has in reality become marginal, after having been for seventy center of gravity of Middle Eastern dynamics. years. This probably helps to explain the desperate movement of Hamas who, on May 10, tried to thwart the negotiations by launching missiles against Israeli towns, without significantly influencing regional balances.

This is the reality that the new Israeli government will have to face. A situation unimaginable a few years ago and which leads us to say – paraphrasing Winston Churchill – that, when it comes to the conflict in Palestine, “this is not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning ”.

About Alma Ackerman

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