Sunday, September 20, 2015

Israel is not a lonely island - Boaz Bismuth



by Boaz Bismuth

The International Atomic Energy Agency's decision on Thursday to reject, by a large majority of 61 to 43, the proposal from the Arab bloc -- to impose international oversight on Israel's nuclear facilities is not just a major Israeli victory, but also proof that Israel is not some wayward island in a virtuous global sea.

For years now we haven't exactly been spoiled by the international community; the nuclear deal and labeling products made in Judea and Samaria are just the most recent examples. But to conclude that Israel is now isolated after the diplomatic tsunami forecast in 2011 (remember?) and that the current "radical" right-wing government in Jerusalem is leading us into historical isolation is a bit of a stretch. And it's more than a little wrong. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency's decision on Thursday to reject, by a large majority of 61 to 43, the proposal from the Arab bloc, essentially by Egypt, to impose international oversight on Israel's nuclear facilities is not just a major Israeli victory, but also proof that Israel is not some wayward island in a virtuous global sea. 

The story of the IAEA's vote needs to be divided in two: The positive aspect, of course, is that all EU countries, the U.S., and countries from South America, the Pacific and Africa, all voted against the proposal. 

The negative aspect is the fact that Arab states, even the friendly ones among them with which we have diplomatic ties, still after all these years cannot cross the bridge and understand that relations with Israel cannot be maintained only behind closed doors and only when it suits their interests (security cooperation, for example), while displaying hostility when the spotlight is shining, as in the case of the IAEA vote.

Let's begin with the positive. Recently the superpowers signed a nuclear deal with Iran. Even those who supported the deal -- aside from President Barack Obama -- are cognizant of its dangers. A diplomatic source with knowledge of the situation admitted Thursday that the IAEA vote by Western countries could not have been different. There is a limit to how much Israel can be put at risk: not only the nuclear deal with Iran, but inspections of Israeli nuclear sites.

We must also acknowledge that Israel did serious diplomatic work. And when Israel embarks on campaigns such as these -- for four years I took part in some of them -- the work is serious and provides the corresponding results. 

However, there is a negative side to the story. Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is comfortable for Israel, certainly in comparison to Egypt under his predecessor, Mohammed Morsi. Israel and Egypt share common enemies (terrorism, the Islamic State group) in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel allows Egypt to deploy military forces in Sinai beyond what is stipulated in the peace accord between the countries.

Israel and Egypt have also found a common language regarding Hamas. But when it comes to civilian matters or things that occur in the spotlight, Egypt is like the other Arab states in its need to display obstinacy (note Jordan's conduct lately). On the one hand, the Foreign Ministry's director general recently paid a visit to Cairo, the Israeli ambassador's residence in Egypt was re-inaugurated, and a new Egyptian ambassador will arrive in Israel soon; on the other hand Israel was not invited to the ceremonial opening of the New Suez Canal and, as noted, Egypt worked hard against Israel on the nuclear front.

These are the limits to Israel's relations with Arab states, for anyone who still doesn't know or doesn't understand. Add to this that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is the "baby" of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and you'll see why Egypt worked so feverishly on the rejected IAEA proposal.

But most importantly for those who were worried: Israel is not lost in the world, and has not lost America either.


Boaz Bismuth

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=13773

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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