In the Israel-Palestine conflict, it is essential to approach the topic with nuance and empathy, recognising both sides’ profound traumas, narratives, and aspirations. It is a profoundly emotional and polarising issue, and simplifications or generalisations can often obscure more than they reveal.
Right-Wing Politics in Israel and Peace in the Region
The political landscape in Israel, as in many nations, is diverse. The right-wing parties in Israel, which have been dominant in recent years, often prioritise security concerns, historical Jewish claims to the land, and a scepticism of the peace process, especially regarding Palestinian leadership’s intentions or ability to maintain a peace agreement. Some critics argue that the right-wing policies, especially regarding settlement expansion in the West Bank, undermine the possibility of a two-state solution and peace. Advocates, on the other hand, claim that these policies are necessary for the security and survival of the Jewish state. It is worth noting that peace prospects have faced challenges during leadership from both the left and right in Israel.
Is the US Policy Contributing to Israel’s Vulnerability?
Recent events have highlighted concerns about the United States’ stance on Israel. Observers argue that the Biden administration’s approach to Israel might have inadvertently created an environment conducive to threats against the nation. President Biden has openly criticised former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, labelling his government as one of the most extreme. Such sentiments were further echoed by the former US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, whose comments on Israeli domestic affairs were seen by many as interference.
Furthermore, there have been allegations of the US government financially backing NGOs opposing Netanyahu, fuelling the domestic political unrest in Israel. These tensions were symbolically represented when Netanyahu was denied a White House invitation while opposition leader Benny Gantz was welcomed.
Some speculate that Israel’s recent military vulnerabilities could be tied to a potential cyber-attack from Iran, further complicated by claims that the US provided Iranian agents access to crucial intelligence. The credibility of such theories remains debated, yet some point out that they cannot be entirely dismissed. The compromise of the fencing and its alerts, the shutting down of the sensors at the command-and-control centres and possibly communication systems, which blinded and delayed the action by IDF by 14-15 hours, are plausible reasons for a professional army to be compromised.
One undeniable fact is the shifting nature of Israel’s defence mechanism. Over the years, Israel has boasted about its state-of-the-art defence systems like the Iron Dome and advanced F-35 fighter jets. The underlying belief was that technological advancements would be the primary defence in future wars.
However, recent events where simple weapons have posed significant threats to Israel question this technological reliance.
Israel’s aspirations to integrate with the global elite, often dubbed the “Startup Nation” dream, have been scrutinised. This desire to be accepted by international counterparts might cloud Israel’s judgment and priorities.
Israel needs to remember its roots and the existential threats it faces. The country’s survival is not about international perceptions, political cycles, or temporary alliances but about recognising real threats and acting accordingly. There is a call for Israel to be more self-reliant, to focus on its national interests, and to reevaluate its ties with allies that may not prioritise its safety and sovereignty.
Netanyahu and a Chinese-Russia-Iran Coalition
During his term as Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu primarily aligned Israel with Western democracies, especially the U.S. Israel considers the US its most crucial ally, given their deep military, economic, and political ties. While Israel has economic relations with China and Russia, at this moment in this game of chess, Bibi has been reduced to a pawn played by a Chinese-backed coalition with Russia and Iran to challenge US supremacy. Israel views Iran, in particular, as its most significant regional threat, especially given Iran’s nuclear ambitions and support for groups like Hezbollah. It is unlikely that Israel would actively support or engage in an alliance that strengthens Iran’s position in the region.
The geopolitical landscape in the Middle East is intricate. Israel’s primary concern is its security and qualitative edge in the region. While China and Russia have their geopolitical ambitions, and both nations have tried to increase their influence in the Middle East, Israel’s ties with the US have remained robust as perceived and show of force by the US Navy aircraft carrier group.
If there were a perceivable shift in allegiances, it would have significant implications for the balance of power in the Middle East, potentially affecting US engagements, alliances, and its position in global geopolitics. However, such a dramatic shift would be contingent on many factors beyond Israel’s actions, including the policies of major Arab nations, US foreign policy, and global economic shifts.
The Palestinians also had geopolitical reasons to take action
Firstly, this is a signal to those states in the region that have begun to think about the possibility of normalising relations with Israel.
There has been much talk lately that Riyadh could begin a rapprochement with Israel. The crown prince has reaffirmed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s support of the Palestinian cause.
The country that oversees the Palestinian armed groups reacted to this, and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, made several important statements.
- Governments that decide to take a risk and normalise relations with the Zionists will inevitably suffer and lose. As the Europeans say, they “bet on a losing horse.” The current situation in Israel is a reason not to get close to it. They should not make this mistake.
- In addition, the Iranian leader made several very harsh statements against Israel. Moreover, his phrase “the Zionist entity is dying” received one million views on Twitter.
Secondly, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood was launched when all the attention of the world community was diverted to Ukraine. As are most of the resources. From the point of view of those planning the attack, the time is most successful. Six months ago, there were reports in the media that the United States was emptying weapons warehouses in Israel.
Israel newspaper Hayom wrote about the change in priorities and that American ammunition stored in Israel is being reduced due to the conflict in Ukraine. Moreover, according to US-Israeli agreements, ammunition was intended for Israel for many decades in case of an emergency. The White House has decided to move these resources outside of Israel to another front, but this move could have consequences in light of the fragile security situation. The newspaper wrote that these were Israel’s reserve reserves for the duration of the war.
No matter how Israel acts now, what it does, or how cruelly it strikes in response, the worst thing for the Israeli government has already happened: the image of the invincibility of the IDF.
Ramifications for India
The comparison of right-wing politics in Israel and India, particularly with the Likud party’s leadership under Benjamin Netanyahu and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) leadership in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been drawn by some political analysts. Both parties have a nationalist orientation, prioritise security concerns, and emphasise a historical and cultural connection to the land.
However, the two countries’ geopolitical, cultural, and historical contexts differ. It is essential to approach comparisons with an understanding of these complexities.
Both Likud in Israel and the BJP in India have a nationalist agenda. Likud’s platform emphasises Jewish historical ties to Israel, while the BJP focuses on India’s Hindu heritage.
Both governments prioritise national security and take a robust approach to perceived threats.
Israel focuses on regional adversaries like Iran and non-state actors like Hezbollah and Hamas.
India’s concerns are primarily related to Pakistan and, to an extent, China, along with internal challenges from various insurgent groups. However, ISI may take a cue from this attack and think of the innovative ways of infiltration across the land borders/ line of control; the use of paragliders and infiltration by sea has been experienced in the past in India’s 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Both parties advocate for a revival or preservation of cultural values they deem traditional — Jewish values in Israel and Hindu values in India.
Differences in Threat Perception
Israel’s concerns with groups like Hamas are immediate and geographically close. Rocket attacks from Gaza, tunnel incursions, and other security challenges are direct and recurrent threats.
In contrast, while India has concerns about terrorism and has faced attacks attributed to groups based in Pakistan, the “threat” is more diffused and related to broader issues, including territorial disputes, Kashmir, and historical grievances stemming from Partition and regional geopolitics.
Ramifications for India
The direct ramifications for India from any specific operation by Hamas are limited. India’s Middle East policy is primarily driven by its energy needs, diaspora concerns, and balancing its relationships with Arab countries, Israel, and Iran.
However, the broader global shift towards populist and nationalist politics can influence India’s domestic and foreign policy, including its approach towards minority rights, stance in international forums, and bilateral relationships.
India’s relationship with Israel has deepened in recent decades, particularly in the defence and technology sectors. This partnership might influence India’s perceptions and responses to certain Middle Eastern events but will not be the determining factor.
The evolving geopolitical landscape in the Middle East, with Israel at its centre, underscores the complex interplay of technology, politics, and existential threats. As nations realign and reposition, traditional and emerging challenges test Israel’s focus on technological defence and global integration. Similarly, while India and Israel share some political characteristics, their unique histories and regional contexts demand nuanced analysis. Drawing direct parallels can oversimplify intricate dynamics. Each nation’s policies are ultimately shaped by their distinct histories, challenges, and aspirations. In the realm of international relations, understanding context is paramount.