Israel’s Entrenchment or Adaptation?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently a heavy burden for Israel’s vital interests. After the breakout of the “Arab spring,” he lost a prolonged grace period for a comprehensive settlement with the Palestinians and Syria. Nowadays, he is in direct conflict with the White House, while U.S. President Obama is taking a comprehensive approach toward Tehran. All the polls give Herzog and Tzipi Livni’s Zionist Union party a two to four seat advantage over Netanyahu’s Likud Party. However, the principle of proportional representation favors not only small centrist ultra-orthodox parties, making them regulators, but also, for the first time, the Joint Arab List, a newly-formed coalition of Israeli-Arab parties, which make up 20 percent of the nearly 6 million voters.

For the first time, Israel is secure in its own borders, despite not maintaining an overwhelming military edge over its rivals, as Syria’s chemical weapons stock is a thing of the past, Tehran’s nuclear program is being placed under strict supervision by the international community, and states in the Arab-Muslim world — mainly Egypt and Syria — have been caught in the internal conflict trap. Netanyahu’s strategy, which envisages the Jewish state as an advanced and entrenched U.S.-Western outpost in an obviously hostile Arab-Muslim world, is not supported anymore because Washington has opted for a complete normalization of relations with Iran and Shiite Islam. Initial proof of this, even before the conclusion of the Tehran nuclear program agreement, was the deployment of Tehran air and ground troops on the U.S. side against the so-called Jihadi Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Benjamin Netanyahu, to an alarming extent, reminds us of the Greek governments between 1920-22, which watched France and Italy abandon Britain in the Middle East and largely in Asia Minor, where our country — Greece — was involved, engaging on the assumption that the allies would support us, while on the other side, Soviet Russia supported Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a Turkish army officer, by supplying arms and munitions. The Greek government not only failed to promptly seek compromise with Ankara from a position of strength, but also waited passively for the unavoidable Destruction of Smyrna in September 1922 without international, political or diplomatic initiative. If Netanyahu manages to form a workable majority, then, in the remaining two years the Obama administration has left, U.S.-Israeli relations will worsen.

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