What Does Brexit Mean for UK-Israel Relations?

Although there may be some short-term disruption in trade with Israel due to Great Britain’s decision to leave the EU, and the Jewish state will lose an important ally within the European Union, James Sorene believes there may also be long-term benefits:

The UK is Israel’s second-largest trading partner; bilateral trade is worth £5 billion a year and has doubled in the last decade. . . . Britain will need to negotiate a separate trade agreement with Israel as Israel’s association agreement with the EU will no longer apply. If the UK falls into recession, bilateral trade could decrease in value as UK consumers spend less money. But there could be enhanced terms for some Israeli exports, especially agricultural produce, to the UK market once it leaves the EU.

The impact of Brexit on the EU’s policy toward Israel is debatable. In the past, the UK has [sometimes] been an important moderating voice, but often falls in line with common EU positions. The UK will no longer be present for these debates, so Israel will look to other allies in the EU such as Germany. While the UK was a very significant player in EU foreign policy, Israel has been building up relations with several countries in Eastern Europe and most recently became significantly closer to Greece and Cyprus.

In the longer term, the UK’s foreign policy could rebalance away from Europe and gravitate more to U.S. positions. Britain may feel the need to rebut any suggestion of diminished influence by taking more of a lead on the global stage. The UK has a very large foreign-aid budget and the best armed forces in Europe. It has committed significant resources to the fight against Islamic State and shares common strategic interests with Israel. None of this work is connected to EU membership, but is a function of the UK’s military and intelligence capability and its existing alliances in the Middle East.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, United Kingdom

To Undermine Russian and Iranian Influence in Syria, the U.S. Must Go on the Offensive

March 22 2018

When Iranian-lead, pro-Assad forces attacked U.S. allies in Syria last month, they found themselves quickly overwhelmed by American firepower. The incident, writes Tony Badran, makes clear that the U.S. has the capability to push back against the Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis. By taking a more aggressive approach while working closely with Israel, Badran argues, Washington can at once prevent Russia and Iran from cementing their control of Syria and avoid getting drawn into a wider conflict:

Israeli assets can augment U.S. capabilities considerably. A few days after the skirmish in Deir Ezzour in February, Iran flew a drone into Israeli air space. Israel responded by destroying the Iranian command center at the Tiyas military air base near Palmyra, and then proceeded to bomb a large number of Iranian and Assad-regime targets. The episode again underscored the vulnerability of Iran, to say nothing of the brittle Assad regime. Close coordination with Israel to expand this ongoing targeting campaign against Iranian and Hizballah infrastructure, senior cadres, and logistical routes, and amplifying it with U.S. assets in the region, would have a devastating effect on Iran’s position in Syria.

By going on the offensive, the U.S. will also strengthen Israel’s hand with Russia, reducing Jerusalem’s need to petition the Kremlin and thereby diminishing Moscow’s ability to position itself as an arbiter on Israeli security. For instance, instead of haggling with Russia to obtain its commitment to keep Iran five or seven kilometers away from the Israeli border, the U.S. could adopt the Israeli position on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and assist Israel in enforcing it. Such a posture would have a direct effect on another critical ally, Jordan, whose role is of high importance in southern Syria and in the U.S. zone in the east.

Assad and Iran are the scaffolding on which the Russian position stands. Targeting them, therefore, undercuts Moscow and reduces its leverage. By merely forcing Russia to respect Israeli and Jordanian needs on the border, the U.S. would undermine Russia’s attempt, more generally, to leverage its position in Syria to make headway into the U.S. alliance system. In addition to adopting a more offensive military posture, the U.S. should also intensify the economic chokehold on Assadist Syria.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy