Israel has been trying for years to normalise relations with its neighbours, especially in the Arab and Muslim countries. In doing so, the Israelis are trying to isolate the Palestinians and make the colonial settlement project something that the Middle East can live with.
However, the Israeli plan to annex large areas in the occupied West Bank is a reminder of the expansionist and hostile nature of Zionism, which does not stop at the borders of Palestine. Indeed, its consequences extend to all neighbouring countries and beyond.
In fact, the Israelis want hegemony in the Middle East, despite them being of largely European and American backgrounds, and they want to deal with any independent influence in the region as a potential threat to the occupation. The Israeli government has always been aggressive towards other regional actors to create an imbalance in the balance of power in favour of its occupation.
This trend is particularly prominent in the ring countries around Palestine. The occupation forces have targeted all of the surrounding countries at one time or another, and have actually occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula twice. Moreover, Israel has occupied the Syrian Golan Heights since 1967, and launches air strikes against Damascus and other areas in attacks that are not even regarded as retaliation.
Israel occupied Beirut in 1982 and maintained a military presence in southern Lebanon from 1985 until 2000, when the Lebanese resistance forced its troops to withdraw. In this context, it is no secret that the Israelis fuelled civil war and conflicts between various Lebanese groups.
Jordan was subjected to military raids by Israeli troops throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The latest annexation plan is perhaps a warning for the Kingdom, as the boundaries of the illegal settlements are going ever closer to the River Jordan. Israel, of course, has never stated where its borders are, and Zionist expansionism pushes them back year by year. Jordan may be affected by this in light of the Israeli obsession with its Jewish identity.
It is clear that Israel's targeting of its neighbours bears a direct relationship to their strength, stability and independence. The tripartite attack on Egypt in 1956, for example, saw Israeli, British and French forces take part and occurred within the framework of a move to end British dominance in the country. When Egypt's military and economic position was stronger, Israel attacked it in 1967, destroyed the Egyptian Air Force on the ground and occupied the Sinai Peninsula. Syria was also targeted during that period.
That was when Egypt and Syria were at the forefront of the Arab world, but Israel's tactics didn't change when new comers arrived on the scene. When Iraq, for example, was regarded by Israel as a threat, it launched air strikes deep within Iraqi territory.
Today the occupation authorities are instigating hostility towards Iran, as well as Turkey, to prevent the former from building upon its own strength and to limit the extent to which the latter can do so. Ankara's strategic interventions in the region have made Israel's military intelligence agencies put Turkey on the list of countries which they believe pose a threat to the occupation.
The Israelis behave as if they have unlimited authority to do what they want and take what they want, and also determine what other states can and cannot do or have. Nuclear energy is a case in point. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Tammuz nuclear reactor in Iraq, and the occupation forces launched a raid on a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. Likewise, the Israeli government continues to make threats against Iran's nuclear programme, despite assurance that it is for peaceful purposes only and is monitored by international inspectors. Israel, meanwhile, has anywhere between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons, has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and will not allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit its nuclear sites.
What is Israel's motive for having nuclear weapons? They have no practical use against the Palestinians, because Israelis would also be killed by them, so it has to be the other countries in the region who are the potential targets of Israel's nuclear arsenal. Israel's occupation and nuclear programme is thus an existential threat to the whole Middle East.
We should not, therefore, be fooled by Israel's propaganda as it seeks to normalise relations with its neighbours. The Zionist state does what it wants for its own benefit, nobody else's. Every weapon in its extensive armoury has been, is and can be used against any or all of the neighbouring states as Israel seeks to grind them down with extensive regional conflicts. As former Israeli President Shimon Peres admitted more than forty years ago, in order for Israel to be a political force in the Middle East, conflicts between the Arabs must expand.
This is what the Zionist agenda looks like, but it is important to point out that the Israelis cannot control everything. Regional states and governments have to play their part in protecting their sovereignty and providing a life that their citizens deserve, while also working to remove the malignant presence of Zionism which threatens the whole region.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 18 July 2020
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.