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May 4, 2016 6:00 pm

Expert: ‘Image of Israel as Isolated State Is Gone’ With Upgraded NATO Status

avatar by Lea Speyer

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NATO headquarters in Brussels. Photo: NATO.

NATO headquarters in Brussels. Photo: NATO.

“The image of Israel as an isolated state is gone,” an Israel-NATO expert told The Algemeiner on Wednesday, following this week’s announcement of the country’s upgraded status by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Zaki Shalom, a senior research fellow at the Tel Aviv-based think tank the Institute for National Security Studies, explained why NATO’s decision has important connotations. While the announcement “has no significant military implications,” Shalom said, the upgrade is a “recognition by NATO of the impressive abilities of Israel in science, technology and intelligence.”

“The upgrade now provides Israel with better conditions to export her tools and arms and better opportunities to enhance relations with Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt,” Shalom said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded NATO’s decision at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, stating, “This is a goal that we have worked on for many years. The countries of the world are looking to cooperate with us due to — inter alia — our determined fight against terrorism, our technological know-how and our intelligence services.”

NATO’s announcement is “also an indication that tension between Israel and Turkey is over, or almost over,” Shalom said. Relations between Israel and Turkey — a full NATO member — deteriorated after Turkey downgraded its status with Israel following a 2010 Israeli raid on Turkish ships attempting to break through Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine Turks were killed during the incident, during which “Free Gaza” activists attacked Israeli soldiers with weapons and threw some overboard.

Over the last six years, Turkey has blocked all of Israel’s attempts to upgrade its status within the alliance. However, since December, both countries have worked on restoring their military and diplomatic ties. This week’s announcement is being interpreted as a sign that relations between the two are continuing to warm.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters on Wednesday that his country’s decision to support the NATO upgrade “isn’t only about Israel. It is about providing the same right to all southern partners” in the Middle East.

Israel is one of more than a dozen countries designated by the US as a major non-NATO ally. In 2001, Israel signed a security agreement with the alliance. With its new status, Israel will now open a permanent office at NATO headquarters in Brussels, to be headed by the country’s ambassador to the European Union. The statuses of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan were also upgraded by NATO.

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  • The NATO decision to categorize Israel as a “major non-NATO ally”has to be welcomed and appreciated as a good gesture. I hope the Jewish Nation needs all the friends it can gather to beat the smear campaign of decades!

  • The author of this article is deluded. The upgrade is just lip service to what Israel has been doing for years, and Israel continues to advise the West and warn of terrorist activity, even when western countries such as France and Belgium take no notice. Israel continues to be the MOST isolated nation in the world since there is a bloc of 56 Arab and Muslim countries in the UN General Assembly who consistently vote against Israel and the committees such as the laughably named Human Rights Council pass resolutions entirely against Israel, while leaving the genuine human rights abusers (i.e. most of their members) to carry on freely abusing human rights.

  • Free Palestine

    Bad move. The US needs to cut ties with Israel and drop all y

  • Jose duran

    This development is an organic progression ,mince Israel, is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. And a definite asset for the west.

  • Robert Davis

    In future Israel will be more and more upgraded and nazi socialists will be more and more isolated as socialism will be rejected by ALL european nations as of next year. However as a Zionist I do not regret Israel’s isolationism : in fact isolationismis the BEST way to show Israel’s enemies that a State can prosper and develop in particular politically better with isolationism than begging fools to “be loved” by them. T be loved by fools is dangerous for the future of the “bride”, it’s costly, humiliating and despicable, it’s a liability not an asset.

    • Socialism itself is not a problem. Israel grew up with some socialism and it works best for peoples survival, equality, justice….but it depends on the leaders and what overall vision they have and many checks for corruption. Modern capitalism is destroying all Western countries who do not use Some of it. Modern morphed Capitalism gone wild like today is making a few rich and 100’s of thousands very poor.
      But I am so glad this is happening with Israel for the benefit of the World. USA can use some good tunnel detection AND intelligence.

  • dan ehrlich
  • It’s about time that NATO recognized Israel as a strategic partner and ally. As for the Israeli-Turkish relationship, Turkey must match its words with genuine goodwill toward Israel.