The Middle East Thread

Considering the momentous events currently shaking the very foundations of Israel to its core , the unprecedented size of the protests , a third Palestinian intifada in all but name , and a seemingly headlong dash to a constitutional crisis for which nobody seems to have a credible prognosis , I thought I’d start a thread for all things related to Israel / Palestine and the wider area (and then beyond) which inevitably feels the aftershocks of what transpires there.

To kick off , here’s a very good piece from the New York Times explaining where we are now and just how we got here ;

A freed version of the article is available here ;


In another blow to Netanyahu’s credibility both domestically and beyond , Iran and Saudi Arabia have announced that they are to restore diplomatic ties , seven years after their severance. Consequences of the rapprochement are likely to be felt globally.

The deal also restores Syria’s Assad, as a friend to the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, and this is important because Assad’s opposition was financed by the GCC countries. Now that the Russians are tied up in Ukraine , at least he doesn’t have to worry so much about the threat from the rebels. It’s also been reported that ships have been leaving Syria for Russia crammed with ammunition.

Even before the announcement the Israelis were becoming increasingly concerned with the growing military compact between Russia and Iran. In return for the drones (and possibly ballistic missiles) Russia has been sharing hardware and know how in return. The Israelis see the very real prospect of that being used against their forces sometime in the future in Syria.

As ever , what happens here has ripple effects far beyond.

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My personal opinion about Israel and Palestine is that the latter is an unfortunate proxy for Israel to show its might and aggression to some of larger Middle Eastern nations that it is strong. They know if they even give an inch, these nations like Iran will take a cue that it is weak. Does not make killing innocent people right. But it’s also something that not many can appreciate that your people have never truly had true peaceful sleeps since the reformation of your country. The middle east is a fragile place. Even more fragile than China Taiwan because to have war in Middle East, you don’t even need the countries to officially do it, they just need to incite their various fanatics on both ends to create chaos.

I think it’s increasingly likely that as his government flounders Netanyahu will consider embarking upon some military operation to distract from his woes. Whether that takes the form of goading Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah on the Lebanese border (both of which are already happening ) an incursion into Syria or even an attack on Iran , what is interesting is that in light of the Supreme Court struggle and the serious disquiet already expressed amongst the military and intelligence services , whether his orders would actually be obeyed. Knowing that would probably herald the end of his premiership should give him serious pause for thought.

Edit: With regards to Palestine , the mantra from the Israeli government has always been that the security of its (Jewish) citizens has always been its number one priority. Yet official Israeli policy since (before and after) their withdrawal from Gaza has been to ‘manage’ the occupation. i.e. to preserve the status quo , perpetuate the occupation and deny the Palestinians their State. They know that policy will never put an end to the violence but they deem it a price worth paying , which actually makes a mockery of their ‘security concerns’. Apart from everything else , the business of occupation has become a massive driver of their economy.

I’d argue that Israel appears even weaker, because it did not take advantage of its position of strength to cement that advantage and create, if not a lasting peace, then at least a more sustainable situation.

It could have guaranteed a two-state solution or even modelled itself as an example by giving the Palestinians full rights as citizens, and enshrined the protection of all its citizens, no matter what religion they practised.

Instead they cravenly pander to their extreme right and continue their illegal land grabs (which, if I recall correctly, are often done by developers who somehow have ties to the Netanyahu government).

This is a situation of their own doing. @peterroberts has it right with the last paragraph, quoted below.


I have no idea what course of action that would lead to more peace in that region but from my interaction with Muslim friends who are more moderate in my part of the world, they honestly do not care whether Israel exists or not and I suspect that in a big part of the middle east, they would not mind if they have any opportunity to eradicate Israel from that region while I am not sure that Israel wants to eradicate any country in the middle east from the face of the earth. But as I mentioned, the only victims here are the innocent civilians on both sides. I don’t think there will ever be true peace in the middle east at least for Israel against the hardliners but well we can only hope.

Et voilà … the rehabilitation is almost complete. The man responsible for using chemical weapons against his own civilians and reducing entire cities to rubble (including the world heritage site at Palmyra ) is once again in vogue. It seems no crime is too great if you’re willing (and ably supported) to brazen it out.

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