How Did Jerusalem React to the Death of Egypt’s President Nasser?

Sept. 25 2015

Monday marks the 45th anniversary of the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, arch-foe of the state of Israel. Herewith, a summary of Israeli government reactions, based on declassified documents and reports in the contemporary press:

[At a cabinet meeting the day after Nasser’s death], Prime Minister Golda Meir . . . reported that President Zalman Shazar wanted to make a radio statement on Nasser’s death. The tourism minister, Moshe Kol, said there was no reason for generosity toward Nasser: his policies were a failure and, while driving out the British and the French, he had let in the Russians. Nasser could have been a great leader, [said Kol], but had wasted his efforts on trying to destroy Israel. However, a new ruler in Egypt might take a different line, and Kol agreed with [Moshe] Dayan that Israel should take the initiative.

Several ministers favored an official statement by Shazar or Golda, but the interior minister, Yosef Burg, said they should approach the question “without malice and without hypocrisy.” Surely, [argued Burg], the Jewish community of Shushan would not have sent a telegram of sympathy to the family of Haman (who had plotted to destroy the Jews).

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Read more at Israel's Documented Story

More about: Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Golda Meir, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, Zalman Shazar

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas