In modern times, sadly, such a statement is as ho-hum as commenting on the weather. While the sectarian strife and the Arab Spring continue to wrack the region with violence, it is the balance of power and shifting of alliances that could prove the most dangerous, particularly when dealing with Israel.
In the past few weeks, a number of factors have combined to weaken Israel’s influence in the region. According to the Economist, a border incident with Egypt, which resulted in the deaths of several Egyptian soldiers, sparked protests that eventually led to the storming of the Israeli Embassy and its ambassador getting recalled to Jerusalem.
On top of this, Turkey has not reacted well to the United Nation’s formal declaration that Israel’s seizure of the Turkish flotilla, a small fleet of naval ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, was a justified move.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by expelling Israel’s ambassador from Turkey.
These two moves by formerly staunch allies leave Israel reeling and defensive. U.S. support is more important than ever. With a vote coming to the United Nations about possible statehood for Palestine, Israel is lobbying to the United States to prevent such a possibility.
President Barack Obama has promised to veto such a vote if it passed, but the fact that it could possibly come to that reveals how isolated Israel truly is in the region.
That is why it is very important that President Obama stands by his promise. As the leader of Israel’s biggest ally, he has to keep things from getting too drastic.
While many U.S. voters will disagree with such a veto by Obama, Palestinian statehood would not work right now because of how defensive Israel is at the moment. Palestinian statehood will have to happen if any lasting peace is to take hold, but only when such a proposal can realistically meet Israel’s need for national security.
With a suddenly more hostile Egypt and Turkey, two powerful regional powers, Israel must think it is being backed into a corner diplomatically, and a strong reassurance from President Obama about U.S. commitment is the best move to be made to keep Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from overreacting in a drastic manner.
In the midst of all this anti-Israeli rhetoric being tossed around, more pressing issues continue to be sidelined. The fact that Egyptians stormed the Israeli embassy, as Egyptian police simply stood by, begs the question of how secure other diplomatic interests are if mob violence threatens them.
It certainly does not help that the provisional government threatened an immediate crackdown as a response; maybe that’s the real cause of social unrest in Egypt.
As for Turkey, it may relish its chance to criticize Israel, but if it really wishes to become the regional power of the Middle East, it needs to address other foreign issues that may be less convenient, like the recent violence in Syria.
A lot of this political intrigue may be hot air, but some hard decisions do lurk not too far away.