Despite Palestinian Terror, Israel’s Diplomatic Revolution Continues

Last month saw a deviation from the familiar pattern whereby Palestinians murder Israelis, Israel responds, and various countries—including many with otherwise friendly relations with Jerusalem—condemn Israel. With the exception of Jordan, the Jewish state’s relations with its Arab allies were this time not adversely affected by the violence. Israel’s international standing, observes Eran Lerman, is in fact better than it ever has been. Lerman explains why this “diplomatic revolution,” based on a confluence of long-term factors, can’t easily be reversed:

To begin with, a new understanding of Israel’s stance stems from the growing sense that the world is a more dangerous place than many had hoped it would be in the post-cold-war era. This sense was first triggered by Islamist terrorism and later by Russian invasions of neighboring countries. Israel’s security-oriented policies, once derided as irrelevant in our times, are becoming better understood against this background.

Israel has much to offer in the face of such challenges and many other fields of human endeavor, from irrigation and water management to medical technology. It has even emerged as an energy exporter. The signing of the Israel-UAE Free Trade Agreement is but one sign of the times.

From Asia to Africa to Latin America, Israel has come to be recognized as a powerhouse of innovation. The strength of the Israeli shekel reflects massive flows of foreign investment, a significant trade surplus, and sovereign funds held by the Bank of Israel on a scale that the country’s founders did not dare to dream of. The rate of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is equally striking: and it is driven by sectors that correspond with future trends in the global economy. All this is bound to be reflected in Israel’s diplomatic standing.

At the same time, Lerman writes, there are ample areas for further growth. For instance:

Given the challenge posed by rockets and drones launched by Iran or its proxies, a Middle East Air Defense Treaty Organization (MEADTO) may no longer be a fantasy. The presence of the UAE air-force commander during the Blue Flag international exercise in Israel in November 2021 is but one indication of the potential for cooperation, as was the report that Jordanian aircraft took part in the exercise. With Israel now firmly established in the CENTCOM area of responsibility [by the Pentagon] and participating in various activities alongside Arab military forces under U.S. leadership, traditional assumptions about friend and foe in the region are being laid to rest.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel diplomacy, Israeli technology, United Arab Emirates

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