Monday, February 28, 2011

Israel worried with New Arab system

by Khaled Khalefe

 Israeli leadership is watching the latest developments in the Arab world with great concern and anxiety, and it's not clear whether the emerging Arab regimes and a new Arab world will enhance the Israeli security or not, according to analysts.

Israeli officials are worried about the loss of those leaders who created the environment for the historic reconciliation with the Israeli state, such as former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said analysts.
Israel enjoys total calm on its borders with Jordan and Egypt in recent years. The peace has enabled the Israeli state to reduce defense spending from about 25 percent of GDP in the end of 1970s to 10 percent by the end of the 1990s, and finally to only 7 or 8 percent in 2009, said the analysts, adding this kind of peace also made it possible for Israel to concentrate on other threats.

Wadee Awawdy, a columnist from Nazareth, argues in an interview with Xinhua on Monday that the outcome of the events in the region will lead to a gradual transition, and to a more democratic and representative parliamentary system with a western-style presidential control of the armed forces and security services over the long term in the Arab countries.

Awawdy reiterated, nevertheless, that Israel might live with this new evolving Arab system peacefully, but things will never be like before. The country will not get the same political normalization and the achievement which they got from the old Arab order, when Saudi Arabia was the one of the major regional powers and successfully imposed the Arab peace initiative in 2003.

In addition, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also will not rely any more on the old Arab system where Mubarak held a key role. Analysts expect, ironically, that Israel will face a new regional system which does not rely any more on the U.S. influence.

However, Galia Lendenstrauss from Tel Aviv University expects further regional instability in the Arab countries, an element which will prevent in the near future from constructing a coherent unilateral Arab policy toward Israel.

She argues that the failure of those moderate Arab leaders will help to upgrade the regional role of Turkey and Iran, and lead to a further decline of the U.S. influence in the regional Arab political system.
Analysts like Lendenstrauss hold the opinion that both Turkey and Iran will bolster their national strategic interests in the new Middle East system, and Iran may become a legitimate actor in this evolving system.
Sooner or later, the decline of the U.S. in the region will oblige Washington to recognize Iran as a regional nuclear power, but with strict restriction of nonproliferation policy, on the other hand, Turkey will gain further regional economic power, says Lendenstrauss, an expert on Turkey.

"The U.S. decline will increase the security threats against Israel, and on the other hand it will push Israel toward further self-defense policy and isolationism in the region," she told Xinhua, adding that, consequently, the Israeli national security planners will soon revise their policies by examining new considerations.
Hirsh Goodman from the political department of Tel Aviv University, however, believes that Israel should be pleased with the upcoming changes in the Arab world. He is of the opinion that what happened are positive trends to Israel and the key issue will still be the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.

If Israel could resolve its problems with the Palestinians, then it can normalize its relations with the upcoming regimes in the Arab world, Goodman told Xinhua. 


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