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    Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak during their meeting at Putin's residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on May 14, 2013

    Flipping the Script: Could Russia Replace US as 'Israel's Global Defender'?

    © AFP 2019 / POOL/ MAXIM SHIPENKOV
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    The United States has been Israel's key ally for decades but the time has come for a Middle Eastern realignment, with Russia acting as of Israel's global defender, Peter Weber argues.

    "Making sure Israel is safe is a sacred, bipartisan, inviolable cornerstone of American foreign policy. But is it really so important that America be the nation that provides that protection?" he asked in an opinion piece titled "Why Russia should take over Israel's defense from America."

    Both countries enjoy a special relationship but their relations have been strained recently. Weber is convinced that Israel should take the time to re-evalutate its partnership with Washington and forge deeper ties with Moscow. 

    Such a framework is not a novel idea. According to the senior editor at The Week, Russia and Israel are already warming up to each other and the reasons for the nascent friendship are abundant. Consider Israel's large Russian-speaking population, for example.

    Should Russia be interested in the new Middle Eastern security architecture, Israel would benefit from the major military modernization Russia is currently undergoing. "If Russia signed on, Israel could be assured of advanced weapons and enough nuclear backup to scare the daylights out of even the most hostile nation or nonstate group," Weber observed.

    Moscow aspires to improve its global standing and becoming Israel's patron could be instrumental in that. "The country that protects Israel is guaranteed a seat at the table when it comes to many of the biggest, most high-profile challenges in the global arena," Weber pointed out.

    In addition, Russia and Israel have a shared stance on Islamic extremism and terrorism.

    Low oil prices and the restrictive measures the West imposed on Moscow have led Russia to look for new partners. Moscow is "keenly looking for new markets for its armaments; Israel is a generous customer with a large defense budget," Weber noted.

    Although closer ties between Russia and Israel "could be a hard pill for the US to swallow," the relations would be beneficial for all, including Washington, Weber said, citing the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an example.

    The US has put a lot of effort into helping the rivaling factions reach an agreement but "seems to have run out of steam as lead intermediary," he said. At the moment Moscow is better positioned to serve as an honest broker in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    "Russia and Israel are already friendly, at least in a casual way, and the US wouldn't become Israel's enemy – but if everyone would benefit from a Mideast realignment, there's no need to stay together for nostalgia's sake," Weber concluded.

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    Tags:
    Middle East, security, geopolitics, cooperation, Vladimir Putin, Israel, United States, Russia
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