Tomorrow will see the Israeli’s going to the polls! The election results are predictable for those familiar with Israeli politics and the emerging Middle East. I say emerging Middle East because this is the first Israeli election to take place post and during the Arab Spring/Revolution. What Israel has seen during the last two years is a rise in support through out the Middle East for the Palestinian cause. It has also seen a substantial rise in support from the world; Palestinians were granted Soverign State at the UN on the 29th November 2012 by 138 out of 193 UN Member States. This was a blow to Israel who up until then had almost unanimous support from UN Member States. The world it seems have been both frustrated and tired by the ongoing issue of Palestine and Israel. For the Palestinians this was a turning point in history. On the same day 29th November in 1947 the UN voted on the recognition of the State of Israel within the Palestinian State. So, for the Palestinians to be granted Statehood recognition by the UN 65 years later was a big blow to Israel. With the emerging Middle East and already Israel noticing a shift in diplomacy notably by Egypt; who under Mubarak had a partner in the region to ensure peace and stability across it’s borders no longer has this benefit under the recently elected Muslim Brotherhood leader, Morsi. Whereby Morsi must play into the hands of the Western Superpowers and had to ensure that the peace treaty with Israel (1979) would be honored by his government although public opinion in Egypt would like to see the treaty dismantled. There have been several demonstrations in Egypt during the revolution against the Israel Embassy in Cairo calling for the Israeli envoy to leave Egypt and the treaty to be abolished. Under Mubarak the Israeli embassy was always protected and there would be a severe consequences in place should anyone attempt to target the embassy. However, the United States has ensured and secured Morsi as a player in the region for peace. The IMF offered Morsi a $4.8billion loan. This does not come to Egypt without some assurances – speculators have suggested that this is to keep Morsi and the treaty alive. Plus, to ensure that American interests are preserved regionally.
Another issue for Israel is the rise in Islamism across the region, this is not just something that Israel fears it is something that fears both the EU and America. I do not know whether the Superpowers were naive in their approach on the revolution or whether they were aware that Islamist governments would be elected in favour of the autocratic regimes that had previously been in power. However, for Israel and the region an Islamist government is a potential disaster. For a moment let us ignore Israel and focus on what Islamist governments mean for the region. Firstly, minority religions/sects/ethnics will not be represented within a governmental landscape. Secondly, rights issues of these groups will not necessarily be preserved. Possibly Shariah law could be fully implemented meaning those who do not observe Islam would be trialed under Islamic Law, or, even worse, will not be represented equally within society. Muslims who do not observe the conservative elements of Islam would be amoungst the first groups of people to suffer. Secondly, on a regional level Israel would bear the brunt – it would be further ostracized by regional players.
Egypt borders Israel as do Syria and Lebanon. Jordan is suffering from demonstrations and is the only other country regionally which has a peace treaty with Israel. However, Jordan has done all it can to secure the border and to work actively in serving the treaty. A rise in Islamisim in Jordan threatens further insecurity both domestically and regionally. So far King Adbullah has done all he can to secure his country.
Syria, however, presents a different situation all together. For decades Assad has secured its border with Israel and although Syria doesn’t have a peace accord with Israel it has maintained a peaceful border for the most part. During this bloody crisis which has rocked Syria its border with Israel has been violated. This has certainly created a stir within Israeli politics. Its disputed Golan Heights border with Syria had been relatively quiet under Assad now it seems that Islamism is on the rise and there is no guarantee that a new government will honour this unspoken agreement.
Hezbollah won 53% of votes in the last Lebanese elections presenting Israel with a further dilemma Two of its four borders have fallen to the hands of Islamists (enemies), Syria is yet to emerge from its crisis, however, this presents Israel with a third unsecured border and Jordan may or may not remain secular and secure. Under these terms and landscapes Israel has great reason to feel insecure.
So far two major events have occurred that has reinforced insecurity for Israel; the revolution and the outcome of the UN Statehood bid for Palestine. it will be of no surprise tomorrow if the right wing alliance government made up of Netenyahu’s Likud party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alliance between his Likud party and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party is tipped to win.
This particular alliance reinforces the need for Israel to create a nationalistic party that serves the interests of Israel alone. Of course, Israeli’s at this time will be feeling rather insecure with what has happened both regionally and internationally, however, if Israel were to consider the outcomes of electing such a right-winged alliance then perhaps Israeli’s will reconsider their voting strategy. Rather than seeking a party that wants to benefit from regional stability and work closely with the emerging governments Israel may find itself being ignored by regional players and isolated further. It’s views on Palestinian rights cannot last forever and the world demonstrated on 29th November, 2012 that Palestinians are slowly being recognized within the international community. That in turn highlighted Israeli policy towards both the peace process and its policy towards the international community. There was only so long that the world could watch the suffering in South Africa under apartheid and there is only so long that the international community can watch the injustices being committed upon the Palestinians. Sooner or later Israel will have to consider peace for Israel’s sake.