Posts tagged ‘israel’

April 11, 2012

Iraq’s New F-16s

by Gedalyah Reback

Israel isn’t as anxious about Iraq’s new fighter jets as it is anxious to get a hold of some new ones for itself. Over the last few years, Israel’s been eager to be the first country to buy the newly developed F-35 Lightning jet fighter – a stealth jet. It placed its first order last year for 20 of them at a price tag in the billions of dollars.   Once Israel gets them delivered – maybe as early as 2015 – Israel will have, indisputably, the most powerful air force in the Middle East by a much greater margin than it has now.  So why make any sort of fuss over Iraqi planes which are actually an older model? Iraq has no air force of comparison right now anyway.

Israel might want to cover Iraqi skies on its way to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites. It might also be anxious that those planes could end up aimed at Israel eventually, the beginning of a reconstituted Iraqi military that was once Israel’s greatest threat.

Saddam’s Iraq

Saddam Hussein posed the most significant military threat to Israel when he was in power.  He kept the Jewish state on its toes.  Even before Saddam, Iraq was viscerally opposed to Israel.  Iraqi Jews suffered Iraqi pogroms and expulsions before, during and after the Israeli War of Independence.  Arab nationalism particularly in Iraq took an emotional, near-psychotic approach to Zionism and Israel’s existence.  Iraq’s army was part of the Arab coalition in 1948.  Iraq’s army actually occupied the northern West Bank and Sh’khem/Nablus.  In 1973, Iraqi tanks entered the Yom Kippur War and fought Israel’s.  Israel’s strategy in the West Bank until 2003 was to defend against an Iraqi invasion.  In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq to destroy its nuclear facilities.  A rebuilt Iraq could one day be hostile – again – to Israel.

Arab Air Forces

Last year, a deal that gave Saudi Arabia a new fleet of F-15s caused the same sort of headlines. Saudi Arabia is a much more capable country than Iraq, buying a super package of military machines for over $60 billion including jets and helicopters. That deal increased pressure on Israel to pay the cash for the stealth jets, and the pressure on the United States to get the deal done and deliver the weapons to Israel.  Other Arab countries have sophisticated abilities also, like the United Arab Emirates (80 F-16s & 30 French Mirages) and Bahrain (33 F-16s & 16 Northrops).

Iraq is getting 36 F-16s, apparently as strong and capable as the planes Israel’s air force uses.  That could mean an even fight in the skies if the planes were to tango, like they might if Israel tried to hit Iran.  Iraq did buy sophisticated radar systems just last month.  But would Iraq actually get into a dog fight with the much more experienced and massive Israeli Air Force?  The US thinks the new planes can handle Syrian or Iranian jets while not standing a chance with Israel’s.  But is the Iraqi Air Force really going to be standing in the way of Syria’s or Iran’s?

Iraq & Iran

Iraq will eventually emerge from its internal problems. So the concern about the planes is more on the distant future, when Iraq might consider using them for offense. But this isn’t Saddam’s country. Ruled now by Arab Shi’ite Muslims, the conflict between Shi’ite Iran and the Arab World has put Iraq into a neutral position.  Given that, Iraq could play a moderating role, or at least stay as far away from conflict as possible.

The idea Iraq might be neutral is as much wishful thinking as a peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  The Iraqi government and military have strong, intimate ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.  Iraq’s political and religious elite spent decades of exile in Iran both in the seminaries and in the trenches against Saddam Hussein.  Iran offered asylum to the major Shi’ite religious families the Hakims and the Sadrs, both of whom have major representation in the big Shi’ite political parties in Iraq.

Iran’s influence has grown since the US military left Iraq last year.  How much is unclear, but whatever amount is enough to concern Israel’s strategists.  Now with Syria on the brink of collapse, Iran might want to replace its top Arab ally with a new one with more potential, far more assets and a steadier cultural connection (Shi’ite Islam).

This is all a brief overview of things.  But it’s important to pay attention to Iraq in the years to come and especially the opportunities weapons and technology companies will get to rebuild Iraq’s depleted military.  The Iraqi Air Force might only be one facet of the military, but it’s the most lucrative and packs the biggest hypothetical threat from a rival Iraq hostile to Israel.

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April 4, 2012

ICC Denial to Palestinians is Proof Settlements are Legal – Part II

by Gedalyah Reback

What’s Customary about the Fourth Geneva Convention?

International Court of Justice

International Court of Justice

If the Fourth Geneva Convention is considered customary, then it shouldn’t matter if a party actually ever agreed to the treaty. Based on this logic, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (or any Palestinian militant group) would have to abide by it. But that doesn’t fully explain the opinion that Israel is still occupying a territory that isn’t its own. A more effective argument would be Israel doesn’t claim the West Bank, despite the settlements that exist there. No part of the West Bank or Gaza was ever annexed by Israel after the Six-Day War except East Jerusalem. Even though it strengthens Israel’s claim to the eastern half of the city, it still, apparently, doesn’t undercut the argument Israel is occupying territory that isn’t its own. So, it cannot be argued that Israel’s not annexing the West Bank is what makes the settlements illegal. If it did, all Israel would have to have done is annexed the land where houses were built. So what is the argument that Israel cannot build the settlements it has in the West Bank and that once existed in the Gaza Strip?

There is further precedent on the issue, going back to the Hague Convention of 1907. Though they are less than the 1949 rules, the 1907 rules define an occupying power and its responsibilities. But even in the most apparent of examples, post-World War II Germany, the Allied Powers never considered the 1907 rules relevant because they weren’t occupying a standing country – the Third Reich had been destroyed, so Germany, technically, ceased to be.

In an advisory opinion to the ICJ in 2004 on the legality of Israel’s barrier (intended to keep suicide bombers out of Israel), there is no explicit reasoning given to the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention other than its customary basis. By saying it might “alter the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and thereby contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the court is assuming the reasoning is based on protecting Palestinian civilians. But this treatment assumes that many of the clauses in the convention are irrelevant. In fact, considering the convention customary is difficult because it has never been implemented formally in any other setting until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even the occupation of Iraq by the US and UK, as argued by those two countries, didn’t fall under the convention’s jurisdiction. Ideas like this declare a state’s irrelevance. But then again, the advisory opinion of the court isn’t binding.

Jumbled

Mahmoud Abbas

In fact, it also cites a 1980 UN Security Council resolution that calls the settlement policy a “flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.” But that resolution isn’t binding. It was issued under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, which most international legal experts consider non-binding. It is the much rarer Chapter VII resolutions which are binding. Going further, it was an advisory opinion to the ICJ that considered the Chapter 6 resolutions binding. In effect, it would be one non-binding opinion solidifying that another non-binding opinion would actually be, well, binding.

For some reason, the ICC refuses to recognize Palestinians’ right to sue because there is no state. It would be a logical extension of the Fourth Geneva Convention understandings to extend it, but it hasn’t happened. The existence of a state is still relevant.

April 4, 2012

ICC Denial to Palestinians is Proof Settlements are Legal – Part I

by Gedalyah Reback

The West Bank is an Anomaly under International Law

International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court

The ICC refused to hear the Palestinian Authority’s case against Israel for Operation Cast Lead because, according to the court, the Palestinians aren’t a recognized state. That carries more weight than the court perhaps intended, since it seems to add validity to Israel’s argument that it has the right to build in the West Bank because the territory technically doesn’t belong to anybody.

The Israeli case for the settlements’ legal status is based on the Fourth Geneva Convention. More specifically Israel asserts that Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention undercuts Article 49. Article 2 reads like this: “The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party . . .” Article 49 says there shall be no transfer of the occupying power’s citizens to the occupied territory. Article 49 doesn’t bother making explicit the occupied territory belongs to the “High Contracting Party” mentioned in Article 2, because that would be redundant. The territory belonging to another country is a qualifier for the occupied territory being addressed in the Convention. Several international court decisions have not accepted this argument, but ex post facto provide no practical grounds (if any) for dismantling the settlements.

The argument though lacks the teeth that comes with the logic. It has been accepted by the United Nations and International Court of Justice that the conventions do apply to occupied Palestinian territory. The clarification has seemed necessary before because of this anomaly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Otherwise, there might be an argument Israel occupied Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian territory after the Six-Day War in 1967. But Egypt never claimed Gaza. Jordan gave up its claim to the West Bank in July 1988 in favor of recognizing the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s claim. But the PLO didn’t have the international recognition to back it up. Going further back, Jordan’s authority in the West Bank was only ever recognized by itself and by the United Kingdom. Even the PLO might have boasted more support than that. But it was irrelevant. By transferring Israeli citizens to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel couldn’t have been said to be settling someone else’s territory.

The United Nations might have an older precedent to tangle with the settlements’ legality. The 1947 Partition enforced a Jewish state, an Arab state and an international (UN-administered) Jerusalem-Bethlehem. The agreement went into partial effect. Only Israel recognized it. As a matter of fact, the Fourth Geneva Convention didn’t exist before the end of the Israeli War of Independence. So, when the war ended after Israel had expanded its borders to the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem and in other areas, little could be said against Israel’s legitimate rule in the captured territories. The same went for Egypt and Jordan in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively. It was in August that year the 4th Geneva Convention took effect.

Yasser Arafat was aware of this political ambiguity in the 1980s. In 1989, a Palestinian Declaration of Indepedence (November 15, 1988), Arafat said Palestine would become party to the convention. The Swiss Federal Council, which administers the conventions, refused to say one way or another if the joining was legitimate, “due to the uncertainty within the international community as to the existence or non-existence of a State of Palestine.” If Palestine is not a party to the convention, how can its territory be occupied? Certainly, the Israelis who have settled in the West Bank or Gaza Strip

Regardless, the State of Palestine would not represent the Arab State the UN Partition Plan intended to create. That state never developed, and would be something wholly different than a brand new Palestinian state, in 1989 or even in 2012. The 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence bases its legitimacy on the original Partition Plan, but it presents infinitely unfair implications. Recognizing the declaration would open the door for countless retroactive actions by different countries, conflicting with 40 years of other developments. It would also open the door to Palestine trying to claim Israel occupied areas that belonged to it at the end of the 1948 War of Independence. As mentioned before, legally it would be problematic. More practically, no country has ever given a substantial argument against Israel’s continued rule in those conquered areas (see map below).

Blue areas went to Israel according to the 1947 Partition Plan.  Pink areas were conquered by the Israelis in the War of Independence.

Blue areas went to Israel according to the 1947 Partition Plan. Pink areas were conquered by the Israelis in the War of Independence.

Switzerland effectively said the same thing in 1989 that the International Criminal Court said this week in 2012. There is no clearly existing Palestinian state, and only UN recognition could create one. In the 65 years since the Partition Plan passed, no Palestinian state/Arab state in the former Mandate of Palestine has been recognized by the UN. The Palestinian Authority, recognized by Israel, has only had “observer” status, just as its earlier Palestinian representatives had before the Authority came to be in only 1993.

As much as international organizations recognize the Fourth Geneva Convention as applying to all occupied, non-annexed territory as a matter of customary law (“minhag” if you will), the Palestinian Authority’s best argument for statehood and sovereignty right now is based on the areas it polices – Area A in the West Bank. It cannot even claim Gaza as its territory, since it belongs to Hamas. That brings up other major legal and philosophical problems.

Even if the Palestinians’ independence was recognized on November 15, 1988, for the four months between Jordan’s relinquishment and Palestine’s independence, the only power that can be said to have true and undisputed control of the territory was Israel. At that point, no claim against Israeli settlements, at least until 11/15/88 could stand. It is only by custom that the idea Israel doesn’t belong there make sense. The continued insistence by international organizations and even the United Nations that there is no Palestine brings into question just when a country has the right to declare territory its own.

April 3, 2012

Palestinians Can’t Sue Israel, so says the International Criminal Court

by Gedalyah Reback

That is, if there is a Palestine.

Mahmoud Abbas was metaphorically hit in the face today because the International Criminal Court refused to accept the Palestinian Authority’s right to stand in court because it wasn’t a recognized state. The Palestinians had asked the court in 2009 to investigate Israeli war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. Only the UN or a “recognized state” can be allowed to bring a case or demand investigations into violations of international law.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are floored. But they should have seen it coming. The suit by the Authority would have overturned the understandings of international law that exist today. If the Palestinian Authority could bring claims, then any institution claiming jurisdiction over an area could be welcome to the court. It’s an extreme idea, but certain states do exist and function with much greater independence and ability than the Palestinian Authority – (Turkish) Northern Cyprus, (Armenian) Nagorno-Karabakh or the Somaliland state in the extremely failed state of Somalia. Fewer countries recognize those countries’ independence than that of the Palestinians, but they presumably would also be able to enter the court.

Back to the UN

The ICC left it to the UN to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status through the General Assembly or have it recognized as a bonafide, member state via the Security Council. Otherwise, it is merely an “observer” and not a so-called “non-member state.”

This doesn’t give Israel’s government much more time though than it had before. Abbas wants to go back to the UN and get his vote for recognition. The parameters have been set, and now Abbas knows what he needs in order to bring Israel to international court, where the bias might be heavily stacked in the Palestinians’ favor.

April 3, 2012

Israel Should Mark April 24th as Armenian Memorial Day

by Gedalyah Reback
Armenian school girls hold signs as they demonstrate in front of the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem in October, 2007.

Armenian school girls hold signs as they demonstrate in front of the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem in October, 2007.

Last May, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin pledged he would recognize the Armenian Genocideon the floor of the parliament. Rivlin is a careful and moderate member of the Likud Party, but he’s been hawkish about the issue. Since 2008, the Knesset has been debating (in closed committee) whether or not to officially recognize the genocide. Last year, they opened the discussions to the public. Why such difficulty recognizing the genocide that Hitler supposedly used as a model for the Holocaust? One so important to World War I and the direction of the Middle East in the 20th century? Quite simply, it would piss off Turkey.

Turkey still refuses to recognize the magnitude or viciousness of the slaughter, arguing the numbers of those killed and the circumstances – battle as opposed to systematic murder.

Armenia's Colors and Coat of Arms

Armenia's Colors and Coat of Arms

But Turkey’s on the outs with Israel. So, here we go. He should have the opportunity to bring up the issue again after the current Passover break. With Shaul Mofaz looking to make an impact, he should be able to bring Kadima on board. The coalition should support it. Last year, in a committee vote of 20-0, the issue was referred to the Education Committee for further review. Last December, when France passed a bill criminalizing Armenian Genocide denial, Rivlin came out again in favor of Israel’s official recognition of the disaster.

While Israel’s ally Azerbaijan doesn’t recognize it either, Azerbaijan would have little to gain from protesting Israeli recognition. The recognition will also deepen Israel’s relationship with Christian countries like Greece and Cyprus. Turkey loses credibility whenever it speaks about the diplomatic consequences of countries’ official recognition of the crime. Without leverage on Israel, the Jewish voice on the matter will weigh heavy against Turkey in the court of international opinion. Whatever problems Israel has diplomatically, its authority on genocide issues and its intimate connection to the Holocaust make the Jewish point of view extremely important to advocates of genocide prevention and recognition (see Armenia, Rwanda, Darfur).

Rivlin will have his chance soon. So will the entire Knesset. it’s a disgrace it has taken so long. Perhaps this year there will be something different.

The Breadth of the Armenian Genocide

The Breadth of the Armenian Genocide

Further Reading: Turkey loses its genocide-denying pals in the Israel lobby

April 2, 2012

Israeli-French Relations are Already Shaky

by Gedalyah Reback

Cross-posted in The Beacon: Israeli-French Relations are Already Shaky

The two countries have had a complicated relationship for decades. In the 1960s, French President Charles de Gaulle abruptly severed his country’s alliance with Israel in favor of ties with Arab countries. The French were suffering after the Algerian War of Independence, so Israel was hung out to dry.

But France is extremely important for Israel internationally on the one hand as a central player in world politics and secondly as the third largest Jewish country in the world (population, 500-600,000). It is essentially the capital of Jewish affairs in Europe like New York is for North America. But because of strong French nationalism and skepticism of religious communities, it also hosts a strongly Zionist-oriented Jewish population. It has been a major source for new olim the last few years.

But nothing characterizes the relationship more than the Gilad Shalit crisis. Shalit’s family is one of those immigrant families. He has dual citizenship between France and Israel, and he got several honorable mentions from the French president during his captivity. France also lent some diplomatic muscle to the negotiations for his release. It went well with what Israelis considered the best option for a French president. The Socialist Party isn’t considered as friendly or lenient to Israeli concerns or policies.

Sarkozy has tried improving the two countries’ relationship in other ways. But French politics make the relationship shaky. The European Union’s policies in the Middle East conflict also make a warmer relationship tough. Just last year, both Sarkozy and Obama were overheard talking about how much they distrust Benjamin Netanyahu. Things haven’t been easy.

But for traditional Jews in France, Sarkozy is a mixed bag. This year’s election has him saying just about anything to get himself votes, mirroring the flops Republican candidates have been making in the primaries. Not even two weeks ago, his Prime Minister very publicly said Jews and Muslims should give up their dietary laws and assimilate fully in “modern” France. This is a country where French nationalists have held public protests demanding true Frenchmen eat pork in recognition of pig’s place as a staple of a patriotic French diet.

The idea that anti-immigrant and anti-minority feelings are mixing with anti-Israeli politics is nothing new, and it worries Israel’s advocates that see it all exacerbating European policy against Israel. Since the Second Intifida started 12 years ago, attacks against Jews grew tremendously. The Anti-Defamation League is not missing this opportunity to again talk about the rise in anti-Semitism on the continent. That includes another high-profile Jewish murder, victim Ilan Halimi, in 2005. In France, Synagogue arson has occurred often. Attacks have becoming increasingly aggressive over the years.

Cross-posted in The Beacon: Israeli-French Relations are Already Shaky

April 2, 2012

Quick Thought: Israel Should Join the European Union

by Gedalyah Reback

It’s a topic that isn’t broached so often. The reasons aren’t clear. It might have to do with Israeli hesitation toward Europe because of historical baggage. But considering the idea Israel might join NATO comes up every so often, it isn’t so much of a leap. So what keeps this off the radar? Shouldn’t Israel want to join the group?

There are negatives that I can think of, but as a personal exercise I’d like to cover the positives. There are immediate benefits and potential in all of them.

1. Movement

The benefit to Israelis would be the ability to move about Europe more freely and for longer periods of time. It would give Israelis more opportunities to study abroad and build relationships with future business and political partners in important countries from the UK to Germany to Poland. The reverse would also be a benefit. European Jews would more often visit Israel, probably with a heavy level of extended stays by students and retirees. This is something Israel has coveted for decades, a way of channeling more European Jews to the Holy Land to become permanent residents and citizens. It would probably launch at the least a small rekindle of European Zionism in the Jewish community there.

2. Money and Energy

Really these two topics are linked. Since 1992, Europe has added 2.5 million jobs. The opening of borders has let new import/export relationships develop, plus there is a higher-level, professional exchange of knowledge and business that would be incredibly valuable to Israel’s high-tech sector. Israel’s joining the Union would serve as free publicity for Israel’s start-up industry, plus even work in the reverse. With so many foreign interests investing in Israeli companies, the time is coming for Israeli entrepreneurs to buy up foreign assets for themselves.

The opening to tourists is the obvious and most easy-to-understand benefit of the whole project. With easier access to Israel for travelers, that means more cash for the tourist industry, taxes for the government and eventually government investment in various sectors that would in turn sell to continental Europe. Even if Israeli prices were to be equal to Western European prices, there would be extra cash flow.

A major sector that would benefit would be Israel’s growing energy market. Israel has always needed oil, but soon it will be producing natural gas. Depending on how large the exports can be, an internal EU market for fuel would be a major boon for Europe to welcome Israel into the Union and for Israel’s economy. Plus, a massive amount of research & development for alternative energy is happening in Israel. There are infinite possibilities for exporting an untapped and extremely interested market like the one that exists in Europe. It goes hand and hand with Israel’s other R&D, in high-tech.

Other benefits would be in certain import/export markets like cars. The potential for more cars on the road here could mean lower taxes for Israelis and more infrastructure development also. It could even make negotiating building highways in Palestinian territory easier if European automakers and the EU’s political power are behind the push. It would open up access across the country.

3. Customs and Security

The major benefit would probably be in customs, not even the probably infinitely better relationship with NATO. On the customs front, Israel would have more ready access to European travelers and cooperation with other countries’ enforcement agencies and border patrols. It would make monitoring any threats from militant Muslims in Europe easier, particularly from France or Germany.

As mentioned before, entering the European Union would be more reason to join NATO. NATO’s major benefit is its collective defense protocols. First implemented after September 11th, the attack on the United States was defined as an attack on the entire alliance, making the invasion of Afghanistan, overthrow of the Taliban and crushing of Al-Qaeda all NATO priorities and missions, not merely those of the US. Thus, an attack by a foreign power, whether directly or via an affiliated terrorist organization, could be designated an attack on all of NATO, and automatically trigger a cooperative counterattack against an aggressive country like Pakistan, Iran or potentially a future hostile Egypt.

____

This is a very blanket list of positives to the idea. Ideologically, economically and defensively, the move makes a lot of sense. It’s worth exploring for Israel’s future in terms of infrastructure, external security and even the potential to attract more Jews to become citizens of Israel.

April 1, 2012

Outside Arabia: Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Israel’s Strategy

by Gedalyah Reback

Month to month, there is some report about Turkey’s distaste for Israeli policy or the Jewish state getting cozy with one of Turkey’s immediate neighbors. Today was Israel’s latest military exercise with Greece. The exercise involves the United States Navy and is actually the replacement for the NATO-affiliated exercises Israel once joined that had a central presence by Turkey. Israel doesn’t have to go far to find some way to exploit the divide between Greece and Turkey.

There isn’t the sort of tension that led to Greek revolutions against the Ottoman Empire of the past, but the diplomatic differences are still there. Issues revolve around Turkey’s ally Northern Cyprus, and Greece’s ally (the southern) Republic of Cyprus.

But the more important story this week was about Azerbaijan. Israel’s government has gone out of its way the last 15 years to create a strong relationship with Iran’s secular neighbor. The article speculated Israel could use Azerbaijan either to stage rescue missions and “clean-up” crews for the aftermath of a strike on Iran, or even use it to launch the operation itself. Despite the heavy political implications and exposure to Azerbaijan’s security, the story’s reporting does broaden our general perspective of how versatile Israel’s strategy is.

There are a bunch of other countries that Israel has interest in. It doesn’t have to involve Iran. But these stories and more in the pipeline should wake up anyone studying the country. There’s slightly more to Israel’s military and foreign interests than just the United States, Iran and the Palestinians.

April 22, 2009

Israel & NATO

by Gedalyah Reback

Support Growing for Idea

According to a poll conducted by Jerusalem-based KEEVOON Research, Israelis would generally support joining NATO (54%), and by a wider margin support joining the European Union (69%). There are major differences between the two and particular reasons why there is such a wide differential in support.

Advocates from the right wing, like Daniel Pipes, have generally smiled on the idea. But the gesture has much, MUCH, wider support than people may realize. Diplomats in Europe have been vocal the last several years, plus European governments. These are just a few of the deeply reasoned articles that have pushed Israel’s joining the military alliance.

In fact, the support for the move jumped suddenly after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election as Iranian president. Simply, a threatened NATO member would be backed by the might of a 28-member military alliance that included the United States, Turkey and all the major Western European countries. Considering NATO’s declaration in 2001 that the September 11th attacks constituted an attack on the entire alliance, precedent is already in place to consider terrorist attacks as military aggression. Hezbollah and Hamas would be frozen strategically.

Drawbacks

But the obvious drawbacks would be the need to limit Israel’s offensive liberties at war. As regularly as Israel has had to go to war (three times in less than three years), Israel would have to exert an effort beyond any other country in the world to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties, otherwise risk weakening the alliance.

It might be used as an incentive to make a peace deal. But again this brings on the classic issues of hastey, unsubstantial accords that would break down like the Oslo agreements did in 2000. But joining a military alliance would partially necessitate Israel maintains its military strength, not reduces it.

Benefits

On the flip side, recent agreements between Israel and NATO might mean Israel would not have to make its joining depedendent on a quick peace deal. Entrance into NATO would allow the Israeli military more freedom of movement in the Mediterranean Sea and, for that matter, the Indian Ocean. It would be a strong deterrent if they were to join the alliance prior to a peace deal.

Israel and NATO have formally signed and implemented agreements to share intelligence and conduct joint exercises since this past December. Lobbying by the Israelis and an innumerable amount of Jewish and non-Jewish advocates abroad, in the US and Europe, has been strong since the aforementioned Iranian president’s election.

The major opposition to joining would probably come from Turkey, but the country already has a working military relationship with Israel. That relationship has even survived the second Gaza War. Israel and Turkey are holding more joint exercises soon.

Domestic Affairs

Joining the alliance would silence many isolationists and mutually empower those in favor of expanding Israel’s international relationships, plus activists for stronger social integration. Improving Israeli Arabs’ place in society with renewed socioeconomic and political attention would be a start, and would lead to a strong social core if Arabs can find themselves a place in a culturally Jewish country. So regardless of what deals the Israeli government does or does not make with the Palestinian Authority, there should be some benefit to domestic Jewish-Arab communal affairs.

Of course, opposition from the Israeli left might be stronger if it seems a NATO shield is being enveloped around Israeli military maneuvers in the West Bank and Gaza – not a major sticking point for Israeli Jews but certainly for Israeli Arabs. This again points to balancing military activity, which might be an impossibly vague requirement by some members of NATO in order to get full membership.

Like I said, there is a definite difference to the European Union idea, and I’ll give some attention to that in the next few days.

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