Israel Refrains from Turning anti-Russia

In Borders, Politics by Orit ben Tzvi

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In stark contrast to the US and the rest of NATO the Netanyahu government has continued to refrain from attacking Putin and Russia.  There are a few reasons for this.

While the US and NATO have used the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England as a pretext for expelling Russian diplomats and making Putin enemy number one, there has been no actual proof it was Russia. The anti-Russian narrative of the West, while not completely without basis has served a culturally and economically challenged NATO to help find an enemy in a new multi-polar world.

Israel has consistently maintained good relations with Russia’s leaders.  It has held back from expelling Russian diplomats unlike its Western counterparts. This is part of Netanyahu’s personal belief in a neutral foreign policy.  This is not to say that neutrality means a lack of alliances. Israel has clear strategic alliances with the US and India, but an alliance does not mean going to the proverbial mat with your allies when you don’t have to.

With Russia, Israel’s situation is far more complicated, which prevents the Netanyahu government from getting on board with Trump’s new anti-Russian moves.  Putin directly or indirectly pulls the strings of Iran and Hezbollah, which are situated to Israel’s north.  With these two combatants aiming more than hundred thousand missiles at Israel, Netanyahu cannot afford to go full negative against Russia.

Israel also has a sizable Russian population, which has remained less integrated  than other immigrant groups. This creates a different sort of connection to Russian maneuvers in the region.

Another aspect, is in connection to Afrin and the general abandonment of the Kurds by the USA. The Kurds had been offered a security pact by Russia to protect their enclaves, but the Kurds spurned the offer in hopes th USA would back them against the Turks.  With Afrin now occupied by the Turkish army and the militant FSA, Kurdish leadership has been forthcoming in their need to find common ground with the Syrian regime.

Israel has been placed in an eerily similar situation.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided to remain neutral when it comes to picking sides at this point.  With the US undecided about its future in the area,  Israel cannot afford to make a clear decision that could imperil the entire country.


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