Israel is a very pro-American country, possibly more so than any other country in the world. As in the past, Israelis followed the US presidential election with great interest, amazed that the American political system had not produced more palatable presidential candidates. After eight years of a frosty relationship with the US Commander in Chief, many Israelis cautiously welcome the advent of Donald Trump.
Making strategic choices requires distinguishing which issues are urgent and which are important. Right now, the securing of Jewish control over Jerusalem is both urgent and important. Jerusalem carries great symbolic and strategic value for Israel, and Israeli control of the city must be protected.
Though he might be a novice in foreign policy, Donald Trump could bring about dramatic changes in the global arena by aligning with Russia against China. In this scenario, Russia would have an opportunity to align with Western civilization, ending a millennium-long schism. Will Russia be ready to end its cozy relations with the radical regime in Iran to become a true US ally in the fight against militant Islam?
Australia and Israel should develop a more significant strategic partnership. They are each small countries that play important roles in their respective regions. They have democratic values in common as well as a pro-American orientation in their foreign policy.
Israel must at long last acknowledge Jerusalem’s unique strategic significance as well as address the city’s demographic challenges in a way that manifests determination to keep it united under Israeli sovereignty. Jerusalem is the place where the future of the Jewish state will be determined.
The threat to Israel of terror attack tunnels from Gaza is exaggerated. Thus the Israel Ministry of Defense’s plan to build a very expensive subterranean wall around the Gaza Strip, reaching a depth of dozens of meters, makes no strategic sense. It is a waste of money and effort, and hands Hamas a public relations victory.
The collapse of the Arab state system and the rise of political Islam have destabilized the Middle East and entrenched the region as the major source of global terror. Even the more stable states, such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, display strong Islamic tendencies and support radical groups that engage in terrorism.
The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction. A weak but functioning IS can undermine the appeal of the caliphate among radical Muslims; keep bad actors focused on one another rather than on Western targets; and hamper Iran’s quest for regional hegemony.
The adverse implications of US withdrawal from the Middle East are manifold, including: the acceleration of Tehran’s drive to regional hegemony, the palpable risk of regional nuclear proliferation following the JCPOA, the spread of jihadist Islam, and Russia’s growing penetration of the region. Manifest US weakness is also bound to have ripple effects far beyond the Middle East.
The use of massive force in a “once-and-for-all” military operation cannot purge Hamas from Gaza because it has deep roots in Palestinian society. Israel’s only sensible option is to continue to employ a militarily modest and politically calibrated “mowing the grass” strategy, which is designed to occasionally knock back Hamas military capabilities and enhance deterrence for an admittedly limited period.