I am not an historian, decent author or a journalist, and the chances are that unless there is a link or reference to somewhere else, the perpetrator is yours truly – Renaud Sarda. I created this blog as a focal point, to arm people with arguments and facts that they can perhaps use to counter biased media reporting and anti-Israel propaganda, and to help counter (BDS) campaign. I am a Zionist/Sephardi/Jew who will fly the Israeli flag, and defend whatever Israel does.
Search This Blog
Saturday, 17 September 2016
Brexit may be an opportunity for Britain and Israel, but the EU's collapse would be terrible
The process of the UK separating itself from the EU will be long and complicated. One way of illuminating the possible implications of this "leap into the dark" is by examining the likely shape of the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the State of Israel– a proudly independent country with a dynamic globally engaged economy, which nonetheless maintains a deep relationship with the EU and which is at the sharp end of the major challenges to global security.
Although Britain’s policy towards Israel has not primarily been driven by its membership in the EU, the relationship is likely to improve post-Brexit. The bilateral relationship with Israel has always been more favourable than its relationship with Israel mediated through the EU framework. Prime Ministers from Tony Blair onward have considered Israeli and British security to be linked due to the threat posed by radical Islamists. However UK support for Israel – especially regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – was sometimes negotiated away on a multilateral level due to other priorities within the EU. With Brexit that factor will be removed.
Jeremy Corbyn is 'naive' on Middle East and fighting Isil, says Israeli Labour Party leaderPlay!01:27
The post-Brexit reality will also likely incentivise the UK to search for economic partners outside the EU and Israel could become an attractive option due in part to its innovative hi-tech sector. Despite the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, (and in some instances in response to that campaign) the economic relationship between the countries has increased over the last decade, with greater levels of trade and scientific cooperation. However, it is not clear how much of this relationship will have to be renegotiated as significant elements of the economic relationship are defined via multilateral agreements with the EU.
Some are suggesting that Israel’s current relationship with the EU - which includes more positive agreements than with any other non-EU country and which includes a free trade agreement without freedom of movement – could be an appealing model for a future UK – EU relationship. However, EU-Israel agreements do not touch on the financial sector, which is a key economic issue for the UK.
Israel’s relations with the EU are also largely insulated from the referendum result. On the one hand, Israel will lose the UK as a voice raising Israeli security concerns in Brussels. On the other hand, the prioritisation of the economic and migrant crises within Europe means that the EU will have less energy for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Economic pragmatism is likely to weight more heavily than ideology. For example, the Greek government led by a far-left wing party - which supported BDS while in opposition - now has very close relations with Israel as it sees Israeli tourists as helping the stuttering Greek economy while also viewing Israel as a potential partner for energy co-operation in the Mediterranean.
Iran test fires missiles branded with words 'Israel must be wiped out'Play!00:42
Security cooperation is also likely to continue. The UK and European states face the significant threat from the return of foreign fighters from Syria and can learn much from how democratic Israel has coped with the threat of home-grown terrorism. Israel also needs to do its bit to help facilitate security cooperation with European countries by maintaining the credibility of its underlying commitment to a two-state solution. But in return it will expect the EU to show greater understanding of the threats it faces. For example, Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets that could do serious damage to parts of Israel’s vital infrastructure and lead to a war with huge civilian casualties on both sides of the Lebanese border. Yet, whereas the Arab League recognizes both Hezbollah’s ‘political’ and military wings as terrorist organisations, the EU continues to view its "political" wing as legitimate.
From Israel’s perspective, the weakening of the EU Commission’s federalist vision is not necessarily negative. In fact, it demonstrates that Israel is far from the only democracy that wants to be a nation state. However, the weakening of the EU, NATO, and a more isolationist US would be strategically problematic for both Israel and the UK, because that vacuum would be filled by Russia, Iran, China, and groups such as Isil. A US Administration ambivalent about a weakening NATO – perhaps under a Trump Presidency – coupled with an EU that ultimately breaks up into its component parts, would pose significant challenges for both countries.
Jonathan Rynhold is professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University. Read the full discussion in the upcoming issue of the Fathom journal