Conflict in the Horn of Africa Should Worry Israel

The ongoing civil war in Ethiopia, besides constituting a humanitarian catastrophe, threatens to spill over into neighboring Sudan and Eritrea. Separately, Egypt has threatened Addis Ababa with war should it go through with its plans for a new dam on the Blue Nile. Eyal Zisser explains why Israel should be concerned:

Despite the geographical distance, Israel is finding itself involved in the war in Ethiopia. First, due to the Falash Mura community, who have ties to Judaism and want to immigrate to Israel. The realities of civil war, as we have seen play out in other parts of the world, motivate many people suddenly to rediscover the Jewish roots—putting Israel in a complicated position.

Second, because of Ethiopia’s strategic location along the Red Sea: on one side of the sea Iran is establishing a menacing military presence in Yemen; on the other, Israel has managed to forge alliances with Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, and recently Sudan as well. All of this is now in jeopardy due to civil wars and internal conflicts afflicting these countries. Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that although the rising [tensions] between Cairo and Addis Ababa threaten to consume Israel, both countries have asked the Jewish state for help and support.

Restoring peace and stability to Ethiopia is a supreme interest for the country’s own people, its neighbors in Africa, and for far-flung Israel.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ethiopian Jews, Israeli Security, Sudan

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood