NATO-Israel cooperation, will the Arabs react?

If Israel succeeds in joining NATO, its regional belligerency would be backed by the collective strength of the entire alliance. Before that happens, will the Arabs react?

Israel wants to be a member of NATO. It no longer looks down its nose at military alliances. It no longer wants to stay away from Western military arrangements. It wants in.

A majority of Israelis believe NATO membership would boost Israel’s security as well as NATO’s strategic power. Interestingly enough, there has been no Arab reaction to Israel’s desire to join NATO, no Arab attempt to block the move, and no preparations to deal with its consequences.

Israel and NATO have grown closer over the past decade or so. In 2000, NATO expanded its Mediterranean Dialogue through talks with seven countries from the Middle East and North Africa; namely, Egypt, Israel, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania. In 2004, NATO- Mediterranean talks were held under the name “Partnership for Peace”. Six new countries were included in the new dialogue: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Israel, in particular, was eager to use every opportunity the Partnership for Peace had to offer.

On 24 February 2005, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer became NATO’s first secretary-general to visit Israel. In the following month, NATO and Israel held their first joint military drills in the Red Sea. Within weeks, a flotilla of six NATO ships called on the Israeli port of Eilat. Israel (and Jordan) also took part for the first time in joint military drills held within the Partnership for Peace programme in Macedonia in the former Yugoslavia in February 2005.

According to the UK-based Jane’s military magazine, Israel’s “geopolitical position” provided NATO with a foreign base to defend the West, while NATO’s military and economic might enhanced the security and economic potential of the “host country”. Read more of this post

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