THE WORLDWIDE CONSEQUENCES OF THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS
Today, November 1, the people of Israel will move themselves with slight reluctance to the polling stations as the fifth round of elections within three years will take place.
VOTING FOR SETTLEMENTS OR … SETTLEMENTS?
In the most recent polling, Likud, led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, finds itself once again in the leading position, but it is uncertain if, this time, Netanyahu will manage to form a majority coalition. In case he does, it will draw Israel to the far right of the political spectrum, as his coalition will be comprised of extreme right and religious parties. Nevertheless, if Netanyahu will not succeed in this task, serious competition only comes from center parties, none of them wishing to pursue radical changes concerning Israel’s settlement policy and the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
LET’S TAKE A STEP BACK IN TIME
Israel’s move to the political right did not happen overnight. In fact, a couple of years ago, it was predicted that the continuation of settlement growth in the West Bank would mean the end of Israeli-Arab peace negotiations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite worsening Israeli-Palestinian ties, Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords in 2020. A year later, Israel and Morocco normalized ties as well and recently, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been negotiating about possible normalization. Apparently, the benefits of cooperation with Israel considering the economy and intelligence outweighed the risks for these Arab states.
Important to realize is that the development of normalization with Israel occurs on the state-level, but that is does not say anything about the attitude of the population inhabiting these states. In fact, support for the Abraham Accords in the UAE and Bahrain is only eight percent at the moment. In addition, almost eighty percent of the Arab population believes that their countries should not accept Israel at all. In other words, state support for Israel has slowly increased, but general support among the world population has not.
CONSEQUENCES FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Following the fact that the Arab population is critical of state cooperation with Israel, this could lead to social unrest within these states and a rise of non-state resistance against Israel in the region. As the people understand that on the state level, no action will be undertaken against Israel, they could decide to take matters into their own hands. This could also mean that the risk of Arab attacks on Western targets could increase, since the West is seen as an Israeli ally that is turning a blind eye to the Palestinian struggle.
Furthermore, it is expected that Iran will be increasingly present in the region by increasing its support of anti-Israel and anti-Western proxies, both within and outside of Israeli borders. This will lead to an even tenser relationship between Israel and Iran and the rest of the region. A more right-wing and nationalist Israel can be defined as an Israel that is even more anti-Iran and as an Israel taking more decisive actions against the Islamic Republic, such as increasing provocations and attacks on nuclear facilities. These tensions, in turn, could further undermine the nuclear deal, meaning that there would be no oversight anymore on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
CONSEQUENCES FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD
Besides a more unstable Middle East characterized by increased social unrest and violence, Israel’s right-wing policies could also have consequences for the rest of the world. Palestinian international terrorism has declined over the years. However, increasing frustration over the Palestinian cause and the failure of Western states to take proper action against Israel can lead to a revival of Palestinian terrorism not only in Israel, but also in the West. In the past, Palestinian attacks internationally regularly increased when the domestic situation came under increased tension. Such attacks consisted of kidnappings, bombings, and hijackings. By executing these attacks, the Palestinians would want to force the West to stop looking away and to focus their attention to the plight of the Palestinians again.
The above-mentioned consequences will not occur from one day to the next. Hence, it is important to keep an eye on the developments in Israel and the Middle East by monitoring the situation closely. The following focus points will be crucial for monitoring in order to predict upcoming regional developments:
- The activity of (anti-Western) proxy forces supported by Iran
- The anti-Israel and anti-Western sentiment among the population of an Arab country
- Israeli military actions, since action will lead to reaction
It is crucial not to be misled by the peace accords or other cooperation between Israel and some of the Arab states. Indeed, the population’s opinion about Israel will most likely not be so supportive. It is therefore advised to work with local staff as much as possible rather than Westerners in order to limit the risks of being a potential target of Arab anger focused on the West. To conclude, openly working with the Israelis or Palestinians as an organization might cause reputational damage, not only in the Middle East, but in the rest of the world as well. It is advised to be careful and to avoid being seen as a political supporter of Israeli policies.
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