For decades Prof. Itamar Rabinovich has studied the Middle East, analyzing Israel’s complex status in the region and documenting its attempts to achieve peace with its neighbors. For four years (1993-1996 ) he himself took an active part in the diplomatic efforts as Israel’s ambassador to the United States and head of the Israeli delegation to negotiations with Syria, as Yitzhak Rabin’s envoy. (After Rabin’s assassination, Rabinovich continued as ambassador under Shimon Peres but not as head of the delegation. )
In the epilogue to his new book, “The Lingering Conflict: Israel, the Arabs and the Middle East 1948-2011” (newly published in Hebrew; published in English by Brookings Institution Press in November 2011 ), Rabinovich writes that in the past year, “Israel’s relationship with the Arab world and its strategic position in the Middle East reached a particularly low point.”
Rabinovich believes that much of what has occurred in the region recently, and particularly what was initially called the Arab Spring, was not dependent on anything Israel did. From its perspective, the gloomy regional situation began 10 years ago , and Israel in response relied on anchors from the old order, notably the peace treaties and security coordination with the authorities in Egypt and Jordan. Those old props have now been called into serious question. Concurrently, other worrisome developments are unfolding in the region, especially Iran’s effort to produce nuclear weapons, the growing hegemony of Turkey - a former strategic partner but now a bitter rival - and the waning influence of the United States.
“The transition to asymmetrical military confrontation, the threat posed by missiles and rockets to the Israeli rear and the collapse of the peace process have come together to create a more difficult situation than Israel faced a decade ago,” Rabinovich tells Haaretz.
For more, go to Haaretz.com