Israel Can and Must Fill the Mideast Vacuum Left by America

Bennett says no point “whining” over US shifting focus to Russia, China; Israel and its Arab allies can fill the void

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: America
Can Israel survive in the Middle East without its great benefactor, America, directly involved? Bennett says yes, but doing so requires clarity of mission.
Can Israel survive in the Middle East without its great benefactor, America, directly involved? Bennett says yes, but doing so requires clarity of mission. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

America is withdrawing from the Middle East. That much has become clear over the past year as Washington’s focus shifts to strategic concerns related to Russia and China.

The US has not abandoned Israel, and the two countries continue to work together in all areas. But there is a growing America-shaped void in the region, and the Jewish state must be very wary of how it’s filled.

That was the message conveyed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in his address last week at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS).

Said Bennett:

“The United States has been, and will always be, our best friend, but Washington has its own set of interests, which we must honestly admit do not always overlap with ours. …Its interest in the region is dwindling.

“This is the reality. There is no point in whining about it. We must act within existing circumstances, not in a world that we wished existed. This new reality presents us with challenges but also creates opportunities. In the geopolitical arena, there can be no vacuum. A void that is created is immediately filled. The US presence in the region can be filled, God forbid, by the forces of terrorism and hatred, or with the right steps, it can be filled by Israel.”

Bennett’s solution is to foster a “multidimensional regional alliance” with friendly Arab states, primarily those in the Gulf region that are likewise threatened by Iran hegemonic ambitions.

“Together, we can better contend with the challenges posed by extremists that seek to destabilize the Middle East. I’m always trying to explain to the world that our region is full of people who get up in the morning, every morning, with one purpose: to disturb the peace, disrupt stability and create a perpetual state of chaos and war. …[and] when it comes to the majority of threats against us, Iran is the head of the axis and the head of the octopus.”

 

Will the ‘Third Kingdom’ survive?

To succeed in “a dangerous and unstable region and in a world where there is no longer a single global policeman (America),” Bennett stressed that Israel must have a clear sense of where it is going.

He repeated something he’s said a few times in recent weeks, namely that the Jewish nation has twice in history enjoyed sovereignty in its own land. The modern State of Israel is the third instance.

See: Bennett Invokes Scripture in Plea to Save Unity Government

The previous two kingdoms–the united kingdom under Saul, David and Solomon, and much later when the Hasmoneans liberated the land from Greek rule–were very short lived.

If modern Israel, the “third kingdom,” if you will, is to outlast the previous two iterations, then Bennett instated it must be flexible enough to forge new alliances and to recognize when old alliances have “lost their relevance.”

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