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ISRAEL 2020: Two scenarios at the heart of Israel’s future

Abstract GEAB N°7
16/09/2006

LEAP/E2020 founds two scenarios of the future of Israel on the description of seven breakpoint parameters

The summer 2006 Lebanon-Israel crisis has made it possible to identify more precisely the parameters which from now on will define the regional equation of the Middle East. In its latest delivery of the GlobalEurope Anticipation Bulletin, LEAP/E2020 describes the 7 new parameters defining Israel’s geo-political environment, and draws two alternative scenarios for Israel’s future depending on the answers given by the main players involved to the modifications of this new environment.

The first scenario, so-called “The end of the State of Israel / Towards simple Jewish communities in a Moslem Middle East” presents the consequences of the continuation for another decade of the policy adopted by Israel since the middle of the Nineties

The second scenario, so-called “A durable Israeli state, partner of an Arab world in process of regional integration” explores the potential of a radical rupture of the Israeli policy from that followed these past few years, in order to adapt to the new constraints weighing on the Middle East.

Here are 4 of the 7 structural assumptions identified by LEAP/E2020 in this policy-making oriented analysis of Israel’s future in the Middle-East:

1. The initiating forces are now extinct

2. End of the period of military “dominance”

3. End of the unilateral option

4. Constant reinforcement of the military-strategic capacity of the adversaries

5. Increasing uncertainty of the nature of the American support towards Israel in the long term

6. The increasing and consistent influence of the European Union in the Middle East

7. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict becomes a true regional conflict

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Here are 4 of the 7 structural assumptions identified by LEAP/E2020 in this policy-making oriented analysis of Israel’s future in the Middle-East:

3. End of the unilateral option:

The strategic choices taken by the Israeli leaders since the assassination of Itzhak Rabin, and particularly by the series of Prime Ministers Netanyahu, Sharon and Olmert, consist of using this “dominance” to try to impose unilateral solutions to all regional problems, have sped up the process of ending this period of “dominance”. Probably, like numerous leaders in History, they have themselves fallen in the trap of “believing in their own press releases” and have over-estimated the capacity of their own forces. As always, the systematic use of the military apparatus to found and implement their policies, instead of dialogue and negotiation, has created a situation which has contributed to the weakening of this same apparatus and to the reinforced desire, amongst their adversaries, to be able to oppose it [1]

4. Constant reinforcement of the military-strategic capacity of the adversaries:

The Arab-Moslem world as a whole enjoys a constant improvement of its fighting capacity against US (or directly inspired by US) military strategies and tactics (as it was the case for the summer 2006 Israeli offensive). For several years now, the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts have indeed each day provided various lessons on the matter which are then analyzed and communicated throughout the whole Arab-Moslem world. The strategic or tactical superiority of the Israeli army will thus from now on be constantly confronted with a particularly complex challenge. The nuclear question raised by Iran is a more sophisticated example than the Hezbollah capacity of resistance; but basically it involves the same tendency. One can observe, and this despite the American and British oppositions, that the rest of the world managed to impose (certainly painfully) on Israel to stop the destruction of the public and civil infrastructures of Lebanon. The potential dissuasiveness of the Israeli nuclear arsenal is thus indirectly questioned, since one should reflect on which powers in the world would support the quasi-destruction of the world’s main oil installations and sterilization for decades of zones concentrating immense hydrocarbon reserves (in the event of a nuclear strike against Iran or another power of the Persian Gulf). There too, the pure potential military power does not equate necessarily to any real political capacity.

5. Increasing uncertainty of the nature of the American support towards Israel in the long term:

The American failure in the Middle East, in particular the stagnation in Iraq – within the general background of a generalized weakening of the United States- could call into question the privileged relationship between Israel and the United States, fed as much by adversaries to an American unconditional support to Israel [2] as well as by the advocates of this same support, who are anxious to observe the incapability of Israel to implement American priorities in the area [3]. Depending on political and economic developments in the United States, Israel might even face a very brutal inversion of trends, which could rock America’s strategic choices in the Middle East. In the United States, the Israeli leaders mentioned in our point 3 chose to favour the alliance with the Christian right wing of the Republican Party. This alliance of circumstance should not make us forget that this American religious-political family has a long anti-Semitic tradition, and that being very much related to the current power in place in Washington, it could be tempted, in the event of a reverse of domestic politics, to find a scapegoat to justify the failures of its policy to the Middle East. One does not need to be a great visionary to imagine which group could be used as this scapegoat; and the effects of such development on Israel/United States strategic relations.

6. The increasing and consistent influence of the European Union in the Middle East:

One can observe as anecdotic the return of Europeans militarily to the Middle East exactly 50 years after being driven out by the American-Soviet tandem at the time of the Suez [4] crisis. However it is no less real that 7,000 European soldiers will ensure from now on the protection of the Northern border of Israel and supervise the Lebanese coasts. This possibility was always regarded as undesirable by the successive Israeli governments of these last decades, and by Washington. Far from being an allocation of tasks desired by the American administration, or the authorities in Tel-Aviv, it is indeed the great return of Europeans to the zone (fortunately with other objectives than those of the colonial and post-colonial period). And this return is permanent since it enjoys the strong support of European public opinion (91% of support according to this month’s GlobalEurometre) and that Europeans regard this Lebanese operation as a first stage towards a leadership role in the solving of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (with a plebiscite from the public opinion, with 98% of positive opinion [5]). This increasing importance of Europeans in the area will be accompanied by a more balanced approach to the conflict and marks the end of the era of automatic support for Israel seen in the last decade of “American sponsorship” of the former peace process.

GEAB N°7 (on subscription)

 

[1] One can observe that the Israeli army underwent a bureaucratization which resulted in the situation that its current senior officers do not have any concrete experience of war, unlike the preceding generations which had had to fight on the ground. Its constant use in the Palestinian territories has only taught them methods of maintenance of law and order; while their training has followed more and more the American model. The Israeli senior officers who planned the military failure of summer 2006 followed the same training as the American senior officers who planned the current Iraqi quagmire. The political leaders also have enormous intellectual proximity. On this subject, the reading of the excellent article “a fatal summer”, published in De Defensa the 07/09/2006, is essential.

[2] Mearsheimer and Walt’s famous article, published in Harvard in March 2006, illustrates the rise of this tendency. Source: John Kennedy School of Governance.

[3] Aron Raskas recent article, entitled “What US Jews now expect from Israel?” is very enlightening on the matter. Aron Raskas is an eminent person in charge of several important Jewish organizations in the United States. Source: Haaretz, 04/09/2006

[4] As observed by Franck Biancheri in an article published on 29/08/2006 in Newropeans-Magazine.

[5] Source GlobalEuromètre 09/06

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