Israel’s significance as a Middle Eastern powerhouse has reached new levels with the help of two seminal events: the discovery of natural gas in Eastern Mediterranean waters and the success of the Abraham Accords between Israel and some Muslim Arab neighbors. Before, Israel was knocking on the door of the Arab and European countries; now, many of those countries have opened the door or soon will. Israel has what they want…
For a number of years since the initial deep sea gas discoveries of 2000, journalists and experts have touted the financial benefits which would accrue to Israel. Up until recently, these forecasts didn’t have much weight strategically, politically, or financially. But this year, the Americans and Europeans have finally, if slowly, noticed that Iran has been getting ever closer to nuclear weapons capability as its “negotiating” partners dither and wring their hands. This year also records Israel’s Sovereign Wealth Fund’s first deposits.
Additionally, because of Russian aggression, Europe’s calculated dependence on Russian gas deliveries has proven to be a big mistake, enhancing Israel’s strategic importance. Just this week an historic MOU (memo of understanding) with Egypt to supply Israel’s gas via Egypt’s LNG (liquid natural gas) facilities (6/15/22) was finalized.
In 2021 the EU imported roughly 40 percent of its gas from Russia. Ukraine has been the main conduit of Russia’s gas to its big markets in Western Europe and has benefited from being the conduit as well as a consumer of it. Now that Ukraine has been at war with Russia for months, its supply of gas has dwindled, just one of the horrible consequences of this war. But many other countries have suffered economically by the paucity of Russian gas and fear the lack of energy for heating next winter. (The cut off of deliveries from Ukraine and Russia has also greatly diminished global agricultural food supplies from two of the world’s largest producers.)
From its own undersea assets Israel has been supplying gas for itself and Jordan, plus a minor amount for Egypt. Suddenly, Israel is looked at by the EU as a critical energy supplier, an identification which will help to supplant Europe’s usual distaste for the Jewish state. This, combined with Israel’s recent alliances with Cyprus and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean, goes a long way to producing better European attitudes towards Israel, which depends on Europe as its biggest consumer of Israeli exports. Just signed (1/27/22), the “Euro-Asia Interconnector” will link Israel, Cyprus, and Greece, cementing their political, economic, and security partnership. The EU has provided 3/4 of a billion US$ for the project.
Of equal, if not more, importance is Israel’s new relationship with its Abraham Accord partners: Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Morocco, as well as a warming of ties with Saudi Arabia:
“The beauty and the promise of the two-year-old Abraham Accords lies in the implicit acknowledgment by Arab states [finally] that Jews are a Biblical people indigenous to the Land of Israel – hence reference to the Abrahamic common heritage of Muslims and Jews in the accords’ foundational document. Consequently, President Biden indeed should encourage expansion of the Abraham Accords, especially with Saudi Arabia. Aside from cementing a coalition of moderate countries in the region (which advances US strategic goals for regional security and energy stability), the ascension of the Saudis would signal to Palestinian leadership that the time to compromise irrevocably with Israel has come.” David Weinberg June 17, ‘22 (https://www.israpundit.org/jordan-is-attacking-the-abraham-accords-to-push-biden-opinion/)
Weinberg mentions the “Biblical people indigenous to the Land of Israel.” Who are they? Wikipedia describes indigenous as First peoples, First nations, Aboriginal peoples, Native peoples, Indigenous natives, or Autochthonous peoples – culturally distinct ethnic groups whose members are directly descended from the earliest known inhabitants of a particular geographic region and, to some extent, maintain the language and culture of those original peoples.
With this in mind, exactly who are the indigenous people of Israel? Archaeology has uncovered many ancient peoples who lived here such as the Jews/Hebrews/Israelites, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Edomites, Phoenicians, Philistines, and more. But none of these peoples survived up to the modern era except the Jewish people; the others are all extinct. The indigenous Jews have 4,000 years of documented history, including maintaining their ancient language and ethos. So, the notion that the indigenous people of Israel are Arabs is a fantasy because archaeological fundings provide no evidence for it.
The discovery of natural gas in Eastern Mediterranean waters and the advent of the Abraham Accords have been a game changer for Israel and the region. Before this Israel was respected as a regional military power and the “start-up” nation. Now, it has growing economic clout, which brings diplomatic clout for the first time. And this is just the beginning…