Warning Signs Against Prospective Challenges for the New Government in the International and Regional Arenas
By Dr. Shay Har-Zvi | December, 2022
The FBI’s announcement that it will investigate the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Al-Jazeera's referral to the International Criminal Court to Investigate the matter, statements pertaining to U.S. warnings about the actions to be taken by the new government, and the resolution of the UN Special Committee on Politics and Decolonization to approves the Palestinian proposal, and seeks the opinion of the International Court of Justice in the Hague on “the ongoing Israeli occupation” all serve as warning signs against the minefield that Israel is facing in both international and regional arenas.
A convergence of processes
These decisions were not made out of thin air. The outcomes of the elections in both Israel and the United States, coupled with the Palestinian arena’s combustibility, create a convergence of several processes that pose immediate strategic challenges for Israel. The nature and composition of the new Israeli government are a cause of great concern among the U.S. Democratic administration, as well as various streams within U.S. Jewry, and parties in the EU and Sunni countries, as they fear that its policies and steps would infringe upon human rights, minorities’ status, the judicial system’s independence, and the Palestinian Authority, perhaps even going as far as changing the status quo in Jerusalem.
Furthermore, the Democrats’ triumph in the U.S. midterm elections has shown that, despite soaring inflation and energy prices, the American public has faith in President Biden, who prioritizes support of democratic processes and liberal values. The outcomes of the elections are likely to lead the U.S. administration (driven by the progressive streams within the Democratic Party) to promote a liberal agenda more than ever before, and carefully examine any statement made and action taken by the new Israeli government.
The Palestinian action taken in the UN particularly reflects the Palestinian Authority’s exasperation with the ongoing stagnation vis-à-vis Israel, and the absence of political prospects, which it does not believe will change in light of the new Israeli government’s worldview. Thus, PA Chairman Abu Mazen, who is under growing domestic pressure as his status and the PA’s governability decline, seeks to find avenues by which to exert pressure on Israel that would win broad popular support while relieving him of any potential cost on the international front by appealing to the international institutions and organizations where the United States ability to veto the Palestinians’ proposals is limited (ICC, ICJ) – a course of action he has taken on several occasions in recent years.
It is noteworthy that, despite the fact that the court’s decisions are not binding, the procedure itself (which is likely to take a long time), and especially a judgment siding with the Palestinian narrative, could have repercussions for Israel’s image and status. Moreover, the expected process in the International Court of Justice and the FBI’s investigation would provide tailwind for the Palestinian Authority and BDS organizations’ anti-Israel activities on the diplomatic, economic, and legal levels. Special efforts would probably focus on western countries viewed as having a critical approach to Israel on the Palestinian issue and with regard to international companies and organizations operating in Judea and Samaria, including all manner of security-military-police collaboration.
No substitute for the alliance with the United States
In order to curb the risk of a political avalanche, the new Israeli government will be required to exhibit political astuteness and great sensitivity in its conduct vis-à-vis the international and regional arenas in general, and the Biden Administration in particular, while actively building and establishing trust with it, inter alia in view of past crises. Any decisions and statements that would seemingly contradict shared democratic and liberal values, unilateral steps vis-à-vis the Palestinians (especially in Jerusalem) that would lead to security destabilization involving the PA and Hamas, as well as public disputes with the U.S. administration (for instance, over the issue of Iran), could lead to a head-on collision and prove detrimental to the intimate ties between the two countries.
There is no substitute for Israel’s strategic relations with the United States, and the former cannot afford to put even the slightest dent in this alliance, which relies, to a great extent, on the democratic and liberal values shared by both countries.
Such a development could project on the depth of the collaboration with the United States, as well as its willingness to agree to Israeli requests for assistance when addressing the strategic and security challenges it faces, primarily Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, but also curbing anti-Israel initiatives within the United States and in other international establishments. Moreover, the future Israeli government will need to take extra care not to get dragged into the political battles in the United States. Advantage of these could be taken by Republicans to lock horns with the Democrats, and make Israel’s involvement seem like part of the presidential election campaign in two years’ time in a manner that could further challenge Israel’s status among some Democratic circles (which is constantly declining as it is, particularly among the younger generation).
Authored by Dr. Shay Har-Zvi, a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS), Reichman University.
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