How Israel Can Readjust Its Diplomacy for a Changing Europe

December 3, 2021 | Emmanuel Navon
About the author: Emmanuel Navon teaches international relations at Tel Aviv University. He is also a senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum and the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. His latest book is The Star and the Scepter: A Diplomatic History of Israel.

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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