Israeli’s concerns continue to mount as developments in the Middle East speed up. Just as Israeli security sources failed to predict the fall of Ben Ali and Mubarak, their confusion continues to grow in their visions of the future.
Political leaders and military generals in Israel have mostly been silent to the media and banned from expressing their opinions. It is clear, however, that they have no hope in the future as they speak of it with great uncertainty. The developments of Tunisia concerned Israel but with the revolution reaching Egypt, this concern turned into fear.
There is no doubt that Israeli security and intelligence agencies made a mistake in evaluating the chances of such movements as well as their results. Regarding Egypt, however, they were certain that the Egyptian regime will stay in place and will survive the storm of uprisings. The Israelis transferred this viewpoint on to the US to a point where US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was speaking confidently about the stability of the Mubarak regime in the first days of the unrest in Egypt.
After the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Israel was confident that the Egyptian military would assume power and there would be no dramatic changes in Egypt. With the Egyptian military gradual compromise and its heeding of the demands by the Egyptian youth, Israel’s intelligence index has dramatically diminished regarding the future.
Far-right groups in Israel have been venting their anger on the United States, who they claim backs out and withdraws its support of allies. The United States giving up on its dedicated ally Hosni Mubarak was not a good signal to Israel and contains many dangers. It is possible that the United States will give up on Israel if forced to do so. Therefore, there have been harsh attacks on Obama from within the political establishments of Israel, and they believe that all of the regional developments are rooted in the US’s weakness and Obama’s speeches in Cairo and Turkey, in which reached out to Muslims and Arabs. The US was not able to gain back Israel’s confidence after vetoing the resolution condemning Israel’s settlement construction at the United Nations Security Council.
Some Israeli analysts have a different point of view and believe that the recent tremor of the Middle East will have strategic implications that cannot be countered. No change has been witnessed in Israeli-Egyptian relations so far but Aluf Benn from the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz believes that the crossing of the Israeli Dolphin submarine a year and a half ago from the Suez Canal and its entering the Red Sea was a clear sign of strategic cooperation with Egypt and a threat to Iran. But the Suez Canal has become a “reverse communication channel” this time. Israel strongly pressured the US and Egypt to prevent two Iranian naval vessels from crossing the canal and the Israeli president even called the passage a threat to Europe. “But the Egyptians paid little attention and allowed the crossing to take place.”
Aluf Benn adds that the crossing of Iranian vessels indicates that a change has occurred within the equation of power in the region following the fall of Hosni Mubarak. This change also points to another issue: What Israelis thought to be dead was still alive! Arabization. The popular revolts in Arab nations in a simultaneous fashion showed that the common belief that Arabization had died was incorrect.
Dr. David Bukai, a professor of Middle East studies at Haifa University, believes the Arab genie has been let out of the bottle and the incidents that have occurred in Egypt and Tunisia will reach Arab farms like wild fire. He believes an era of violence and instability will encompass the entire Middle East.
He says the source of the recent changes was unknown until a short while ago: the people. In Arab countries people showed that they had a power they had never used before.
Israel is not merely concerned about abroad or the political developments and their diplomatic aftermaths. Israel’s economic newspaper Marker has predicted that after the collapse of Mubarak’s regime, Israel will be plagued with a financial catastrophe. Tel Aviv will have to cut its social budgets to increase its security expenses and this means a heavy blow to Israel’s political stability, which will devalue the shekel and harm the confidence in Israel’s economy. The collapse of neighboring Arab regimes will make Israel redefine its priorities.
The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper writes that the collapse of Mubarak’s regime will force Israel to resort to economic austerity measures. Therefore, taxes will rise and establishment of security will gain priority over social stability. The geopolitical consequences of Egypt’s development will result in a full overhaul of Israel’s budget plan.
Famous Israeli strategy analyst Ron Ben-Yishai points to a very important issue in the Yedioth Ahronoth that indicates Israel’s deep concern about the future: “Israel should be self-reliant more than ever before, because there is increasing evidence that the Arab world views Israel as a burden.”
Some Israeli officials believe that Israel’s problem is that its neighboring Arab governments have all been dictatorial and Tel Aviv can solve its problems more easily if it is in interaction with democratic Arab governments. Such comments are extremely hypocritical, because Israel was defending the existence of Mubarak in Egypt up to the last minute and regarded it as its strategic treasure.
Moreover, according to the resolutions by the UN General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council, Israel resorts to the most undemocratic behavior in dealing with the Palestinians in the occupies lands, which in some cases amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.