April 10, 2013
Israel is considering itself as the only democratic power in Middle East. The state that keeps the credos of the Western civilization and endeavors to secure peace in the region. The Arab threat and the entire risk of military escalation is always present, especially when dealing with the Palestinian issue. A significant support towards peace in Middle East stems from the vital role of the United States that always try to keep things under control and avoid any outburst that could plunge the entire region into an endless massacre.
Israel recognizes that the US support has been hardly developed and sustained during the years of the Obama administration. The major reason behind this belief is that the Obama administration, already during its first term in office, made clear that the major scope and position of US policy in foreign affairs was to establish a burden-sharing mechanism on issues of geopolitical concern. One of the critical issues was the maintainance of security in Middle East. This peace can be partly guaranteed by the robustness of the Israeli state, and partly by the deterrent role USA exert in Iran with reference to the nuclear arsenal of the country. Washington has put all leverage in dealing with Iran, and has purposedly left Israel to control any possible escalation with Palestine and Egypt. This is the first flank of the burden-sharing doctrine.
The second flank of the burden-sharing doctrine involves Turkey as Erdogan is considered for the moment as the leader that can efficiently put his leverage and exert soft power in Middle East, Palestine and Egypt. Ankara works as a stability factor in the region, and this perception gets even more solid as Erdogan is meticulously dealing with any threat for domestic stability stemming from the military apparatus of his country. Therefore, as long as domestic safety is guaranteed in Turkey, Erdogan’s hands are free to act in regional level, increase the pivotal role of his country as mediator, and carry out diplomatically any tension coming from Palestine or any other Arab state.
Under this framework, the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey is one of the critical parts of the big puzzle of security-building in Middle East. Meanwhile, the government in Tel Aviv recognizes that it is better to plan future steps to prolonge robustness and security, by establishing a vast and well-designed network of energy supply and efficiency. At the moment where Turkey and Israel are in good terms, and Greece and Cyprus are being captured under immense debt and banking crises, Tel Aviv can unleash its strategic plan of energy and build the new road map of energy supply. The profits from the exploitation of natural gas resources in the region which encompasses Cyprus, Lebanon, and Israel can be incredibly high, both in terms of real income and geopolitical leverage. Concerning the geopolitical leverage, Tel Aviv can potentially invest in the development of its energy network towards the Asian markets and guarantee that it would be the state provider of natural gas in the years to come and in prices much more competitive than the Russian ones.
Nonetheless, the major issue here for Israel is to find a way to guarantee the security of supply towards Asia. For the moment, as tensions with Egypt remain, the transport of natural gas cannot be progressed through Suez and stream down to the Arab Peninsula. Despite good terms with Turkey, I firmly believe that Tel Aviv will not seek any partnership with Ankara in the transmission of natural gas using Turkish territory due to the possible high cost and subsequent demands from Turkey in order to guarantee transport safety. Let alone the fact that Turkey and Israel are major concurrents in the field of energy and such partnership will definitely imbalance one side’s profits against the other. Therefore, Israel will seek to enhance bilateral relations with the Arab states, and especially with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, even if such a scenario seem for the moment quite impossible. The exchange cost for Israel in order to reach such an agreement will be to promote Israeli-Palestinian ties and endeavor to reach a more permanent and efficient solution in the issue of the Palestinian bid for state sovereignty. The recognition of Palestinian’s Authority bid for being considered as an internationally recognized state and the subsequent silent reaction by Tel Aviv is not something we can ignore, as it is englobed in the general strategy of Tel Aviv to show good will and safeguard its future energy expectations.
After all, I reckon that Israel’s plan to become the natural gas provider for India and China long-term overcomes the concerns against Palestinian effort to be internationally recognized as a sovereign state. This development is of major importance for Israel’s geopolitical strategy and certainly unveils the insightful prism of Tel Aviv. It is finally a strategic perspective that takes into account the financial future of Israel rather than the short-term side-effects of a possibly negative outcome after the enhancement of Palestine’s position in the United Nations. Taking into account the pervasive global economic crisis, the burden-sharing doctrine of the United States, and the increasing role of Turkey in Middle East, Israel’s decision moves to the right direction for the geopolitical future and position of the country.Dimitris Rapidis