Israel’s Foreign Ministry released its annual intelligence assessment last week, noting that future military offensives by Israel may lead to harsher responses from its neighbors due to the shift in regional circumstances. As Egypt’s post-Mubarak government seeks to review its peace treaty with Israel and increase its military presence in the Sinai, the review explains, “Incidents deemed provocative, such as a military operation in Gaza or in the Sinai, will likely lead to a tougher, sharper response than in the past.”
The report, which exceeds 100 pages, was presented to Israeli security cabinet ministers. It emphasizes Israel’s strained relations with Jordan, elevating tensions with Egypt, and stagnant Palestinian peace negotiations. While the assessment also declares the Palestinian unity government between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to be “little more than a facade,” it suggests that the Palestinian leadership will likely seek to further diplomatically isolate the Jewish State.
Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank on February 25, 2012.
The Ministry’s report also expresses caution that stalled peace negotiations mixed with contagious popular uprisings in the Middle East could possibly breed conditions for a third intifada. The dormant peace process, the report explains, could inflame violence towards Israel in the West Bank. The PA’s announcement Monday threatening to spark a “popular uprising” against Israel to defy its previous security and economic cooperation reaffirms these concerns.
While a third Palestinian intifada is “unlikely,” its rally would not be unprecedented. Last year a free “Third Intifada” application was removed by Apple and a Facebook page calling for the next intifada, claiming that “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews,” attracted over 340,000 fans before it was taken down.
The regional landscape has shifted, producing a multitude of threats to Israel. As a central pillar to the Jewish State’s national security, the U.S. should respond by improving its foreign policy strategies, which currently reflect a weak U.S. with waning influence in the Middle East.