Mideast turmoil presents opportunity for Israel

Sunday, June 16, 2013 |  Yossi Aloni

Danny Ayalon, Israel's popular former deputy foreign minister, says the Middle East is set to fracture even further in the near future, resulting in a region with over 30 nations, where only 22 exist today.

Speaking at the John Gandel Symposium at Tel Aviv University, Ayalon further stated that the process of globalization on the one hand, and the disintegration of independent political entities around the world on the other, present Israel with both opportunities and threats.

In his estimation, the divisions and current inward focus in the Arab states means there is at present no strong unified stances against Israel. At the same time, export deals for a portion of Israel's new natural gas resources could strengthen dialog with Europe.

"The problem of the events in Syria is that in the absence of a strong government, security arrangements with Israel can be broken, so Israel has to take into account the presence of forces such as Hezbollah or al Qaeda," explained Ayalon. "Strategically, our position may better, but tactically we have challenges."

Ayalon believes that Iran will not become a nuclear power, thanks to eventual international intervention, and that Hamas' position in the region will weaken significantly as Iran and Syria all but cut ties after the looming fall of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

"Israel has a strategic opportunity to invest first in herself," said Ayalon. "That was clear already in the least election, when the Palestinians and Iran were not the main issues... We have a window of opportunity, and I hope the government will have the vision to see it and deal with the gap between those who have and those who do not have," he continued, referencing Israel's severe income disparity.

"On the Palestinian front, everyone, including the Likud, already accepts the two-state solution. There is no fundamental difference between the coalition parties on this point, only disagreements over what price to pay and what direction to take (for peace)," noted Ayalon. "But the Palestinians are not speaking with one voice... [So] we need to focus on conflict management - an agreement whereby we recognize a sovereign and independent Palestinian state...and they recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But no Israeli government can sign off on permanent border, especially in Jerusalem."

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