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.