Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Israeli Links With NATO

NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue includes Israel, one of the few fora where Israel and Arab nations sit down together, possibly the only one were security questions are the topic of conversation. Now this relationship is being taken up a level. Ha'aretz reports that the Individual Cooperation Programme "allows for an exchange of intelligence information and security expertise on different subjects, an increase in the number of joint Israel-NATO military exercises and further cooperation in the fight against nuclear proliferation." One can hope that this might include discussion of Israel's nuclear arsenal, or even simply discussion of a potential WMD Free Zone in the Middle East (Israel has allowed participation in SOAS meetings on that topic), but I doubt it.

This enhanced cooperation is interesting. There have been numerous reports that NATO could be involved in guaranteeing Israeli and Palestinian security in the event of a peace deal. (For example, here is a Jerusalem Post report on then-NATO SACEUR General Jones visiting Israel to scope out a potential West Bank deployment back in February 2008) This kind of cooperation could make that eventuality more likely. General Jones, now about to become National Security Advisor to Barack Obama, thought the idea might have legs. Will he pursue it once in the new administration?

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