Jerusalem Report

The challenge for Israeli diplomacy

Jerusalem finds itself reconsidering its foreign policy amid shifting regional balances and discord with the US and EU.

 The EU is losing patience with the occupation and is liable to press for graded economic sanctions
Toward the end of 2013, Israel found itself rethinking basic foreign policy assumptions in a changing regional and international climate. Its great ally, America, no longer dependent on Middle Eastern oil and after attritional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, seemed bent on retreat from the region. And the question being asked in government circles in Jerusalem was: Where would that leave Israel? Worse: There were deep ideological differences between Washington and Jerusalem over Iran and peace with the Palestinians. For the Americans the negotiations with Iran on dismantling its nuclear weapons program held the promise of regional transformation. In a best case scenario, Iran would not only suspend its drive for the bomb, it would become a major source of regional stability.

Whereas Israel continued to see the region in terms of a great Sunni-Shi’ite divide, with moderate Sunnis on the side of the West and radical Shi’ites out to destroy everything the West stands for, the Americans hoped judicious lifting of sanctions would give the Iranians a taste of what normal trade relations with the West could bring and lead them to rejoin the family of nations. If that happened, it would mean eventual disintegration of the so-called axis of evil – Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – and consequently a much more stable Middle East from which Israel would also benefit.

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