How Israel Can Readjust Its Diplomacy for a Changing Europe

In recent years, Jerusalem has developed good relations with a group of Central European countries that have proved far more sympathetic than those of the West, and whose governments have sometimes stopped the European Union from issuing anti-Israel statements. But Europe, both East and West, is now in a state of political flux, and this approach may soon be obsolete. Emmanuel Navon proposes a new direction for Jewish state that capitalizes on its economic ties with Western Europe. Take, for instance, post-Angela Merkel Germany:

Disagreements between Germany and Israel on the Palestinian issue will likely not be emphasized in the coming years, not least because Israel’s heterogeneous coalition is avoiding controversial moves in this intractable conflict.

At the same time, Israel can and should leverage its added value on two issues dear to the upcoming German coalition: renewable energy and Internet connectivity. With the Greens in the coalition, Germany will speed up its Energiewende (energy transition) with renewable energies. Technological innovation is a crucial factor for improving reliability and reducing the cost of renewable energies, and Israeli technology has much to offer Germany. Moreover, Israeli technology can also play a key role in upgrading Germany’s relatively backward Internet connectivity.

Israel should maintain special ties with East European governments, [but focus on these regimes] may have reached its limit. Too many bridges have been burned with Poland, and the Orban era might end in Hungary. There has been a change of guard in Austria, and there may be one soon in the Czech Republic.

By contrast, political changes are taking place, or are about to take place, in “Old Europe” (mainly France and Germany) that can be turned to Israel’s advantage. If Emmanuel Macron is re-elected in France, he might significantly modify his country’s Middle East policies and participate in a military operation against Iran.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Emmanuel Macron, Europe and Israel, European Union, Germany, Israel diplomacy

 

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism