In Its Search for Stable Allies, Israel Should Look Elsewhere Than the Persian Gulf

Much has been made of Jerusalem’s improving relations with the Persian Gulf states, but valuable as these diplomatic efforts may be, the countries involved have remained hesitant about the normalization of relations, are plagued by anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, and have little to offer economically. Moreover, the stability of their regimes is questionable. Dmitri Shufutinsky argues that a more fruitful course can be found in expanding economic, diplomatic, and military ties with southeastern Europe, beginning with Greece and Cyprus. And fossil fuels provide a way to do so:

Israel can develop and connect its Leviathan gas fields to Cyprus’s Aphrodite fields. A gas pipeline could run through Cyprus to Greece and through the Balkans, up to Romania, and westward to Italy. If Egypt can overcome its differences with Israel and cooperate, it could attach its Zohr gas fields to the regional pipeline as well. Doing so would lift the Egyptian, Greek, and Cypriot economies out of poverty and massively benefit the Israeli economy.

In addition to natural gas, it is also possible for Israel to develop its oil supplies in the Negev, the Golan Heights, and near Jerusalem, and connect them to an additional pipeline.

Important military, economic, and diplomatic opportunities could result [as well]. . . . Southeastern Europe has blocked harmful anti-Israel EU resolutions and is more inclined to support Jerusalem than to support Ramallah. Making Europe more dependent on Israeli energy exports would deepen this relationship while prying Brussels loose from its dependency on Iranian and Arab oil. That alone would weaken the EU’s automatic pro-Palestinian stance.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Cyprus, Europe and Israel, Greece, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Natural Gas

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf