No one can dispute the fact that the formation of the State of Israel following the Second World War was the result of the decisions of key world players who determined both the outcome of the global war itself and the post-war world order. And in 1947, the USSR and the USA acted as such leading world actors. These two states defined the contours of the future world order in the form of a bipolar world system.
This order was based on a balance of power and interests, and subsequently on the two world economic and military-political systems. The nuclear triad of both countries (the USSR and the USA), instead of igniting a global catastrophe acted as a deterrent. Perhaps that is why the second half of the twentieth century turned out to be more stable in terms of global security, which excluded the beginning of the World War III. However, with the collapse of the USSR, COMECON and the Warsaw Pact, the modern world at the turn of the centuries has entered a new era of instability, since the US and NATO’s bet on the establishment of a unipolar world with the dictate of the Anglo-Saxons has generated numerous regional and global contradictions.
Returning to the UN decision on the establishment of the State of Israel, it should be remembered that at the same time it was supposed to create the State of Palestine. The whole problem was reduced to questions of geography and the definition of boundaries. The subsequent transition of the world community into a state of “cold war” had a negative impact on the final resolution of the Palestinian issue, because Israel became the main strategic ally of the United States and NATO in the Middle East, allowing it to control a significant part of the energy-rich region.
Israel, relying, on the one hand, within the framework of the Zionist doctrine, on the financial capabilities and lobbying institutions of the world Jewish diaspora in key Western countries, and on the other, on the powerful financial, political and military support of the United States and Europe, began to pursue an expansionist policy towards Palestine and neighboring Arab states (Egypt, Syria and Jordan).
For the sake of objectivity, it should be noted that only access to the seas – to the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea (230-km coastline) and to the Red Sea in the south (12-km coastline) – create natural security conditions for Israel. At the same time, Israel’s unfavorable physical geography forced the Israeli authorities, in the interests of strategic and energy security, to enter into military conflicts with neighboring Arab states (Jordan, Egypt and Syria).
As a result of successful military campaigns, Israel occupied the strategically important Golan Heights, a significant part of the Jordan River basin and the Sinai Peninsula (however, in 1981, after having signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, Tel Aviv returned the Sinai Peninsula to Cairo). The occupied Arab territories are still situated in the West Bank of Jordan, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The Golan Heights should be added to the list, but Israel has annexed this territory to its Northern District.
Formally, Israel itself considers it necessary to recognize a Palestinian state, but in reality this issue has dragged on for decades and does not find a fair solution. Simultaneously, Tel Aviv blames this on a number of Middle Eastern countries (including Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, etc.) inciting Palestinians to escalate military tensions, and on extremist approaches of Palestinian radical movements (either Fatah or Hamas). Accordingly, the Palestinian side (Ramallah) accuses Israel of apartheid and massive discrimination against the rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people.
The current Palestinian-Israeli war, which began with massive rocket attacks by Hamas militant groups against Israel on October 7, 2023, once again brought the Middle East crisis to the forefront of world diplomacy. The fierce war in the Gaza Strip has been going on for more than two months. The Israeli Defense Forces responded to the Palestinian Al-Aqsa Flood with their Iron Swords. Tel Aviv has set as its goal the complete physical destruction of the political and military leadership of Hamas, along with its combat units. In fact, there is a massive massacre of the Palestinian civilian population going on in the Gaza Strip (as of December 14, 2023, the number of physical victims has already reached 19,000, including children, women and the elderly).
Israel has received strong military, financial and diplomatic support from its Western allies (primarily the United States and Great Britain). Washington and London, using their veto right as permanent members of the UN Security Council, have repeatedly prevented the adoption of fair resolutions on the immediate end of hostilities in the Gaza Strip and the provision of humanitarian assistance to the local population, supported by the majority of UN member states.
Some expert assessments of the causes of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict outbreak are reduced to economic explanations. In particular, it is claimed that world powers are trying to exclude the construction of an international transport corridor (ITC) from India to Europe through Israel (including the Palestinian Gaza Strip). Who are these powers?
According to Israel’s opponents, this is naturally the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, which, allegedly by brutally destroying Hamas and forcing the resettlement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, is trying to finally occupy this coastal territory, which will allow Tel Aviv to establish full ethnic control over strategic transit communications in this enclave in the future.
According to Israel’s supporters, the war was provoked by forces that do not want to allow a strategic security agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, including the prospects of building the Indian ITC through the KSA and Israel. There is an obvious hint towards India’s long-time opponent in the person of China, who is hardly interested in the prospect of strengthening its Asian competitor under the protection of the United States. In other words, it all comes down to reducing, if not eliminating, the dictates of the United States in the Middle East.
From the first days of the conflict, some Western and pro-Israeli media began to put forward more unrealistic versions. In particular, in their “sick fantasies”, anti-Russian experts have been trying to present the case as if this conflict had been allegedly provoked by Russia, relying on its long-standing ties with Hamas in order to reduce the attention of the West, led by the United States, to Ukraine and reorient them to Israel (the Middle East).
Russia, of course (both in the past and now), pays special attention to Middle East diplomacy. Moscow has never changed its approach in terms of, for example, recognizing the independence of Palestine, but at the same time conducted patient negotiations to take into account the interests of Israel. The fact that the military crisis in Ukraine is caused by the short-sighted policy of the United States and its NATO allies is not a secret, and Russia initially warned about this and continues to publicly declare it. Moscow, through intermediaries (for example, Turkey and China) and directly regularly offers the West, led by the United States, to stop military, technical and financial support to the Kiev regime in order to achieve an early peace in accordance with modern realities on site. Russia has always noted the destructive approach of the governments of Europe and America in maintaining anti-Russian sanctions, which negatively affects the economies of Western states themselves.
It is not Russia’s fault that an election crisis has broken out in American political society today, where opponents of the ruling Democratic Party, which lost the majority of seats in the US Congress in favor of the Republicans, are categorically opposed to the continuation of baseless and unpromising financing and arming of the Kiev regime. The official representative of the Pentagon Rear Admiral John Kirby admits that the Ukrainian aid budget is almost completely exhausted, and there is no benefit in sight. At the same time, Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian noted in one of his recent interviews that, if necessary, Hezbollah and Hamas can purchase any types of weapons and ammunition in Ukraine transferred by the West to the Kiev regime.
Naturally, the influential Jewish diaspora in the United States (whose representatives occupy key positions both in the American business and in the ruling establishment) use all their capabilities in the situation of the Palestinian-Israeli war to provide priority military, financial and political assistance to Israel, and not to Ukraine. This is however a matter of American domestic policy, and not the “hand of Moscow.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli army continues active hostilities throughout the Gaza Strip, and is moving to use pumping systems to flood numerous underground structures (tunnels) in which, in their opinion, militants and the Hamas command may be hiding. Accordingly, the scale of the humanitarian tragedy and human casualties (including civilians) have the prospect of growth.
The countries of the Arab East, in cooperation with the key Muslim states of the Middle East (Iran and Turkey), use all diplomatic platforms (including the UN) to warn the world about the war crimes of the Israeli regime. They demand that the United States and European countries exclude unilateral support and patronage to Israel, which encroaches on all the commandments of Western civilization in the sense of violating the rights of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
An immediate ceasefire, the provision of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population, the prevention of the forcible deportation of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, the convening and holding of a broad international conference on the Palestinian question, the recognition of Palestinian independence within the 1967 borders and the capital in East Jerusalem, the restoration of the international practice of granting a mandate to guarantee the security of Palestine, the punishment of the perpetrators of war crimes in the Gaza Strip by the ICC in The Hague – this is perhaps an incomplete list of objective demands of supporters of an early end to the Palestinian-Israeli war. However, international institutions (including the UN and the Security Council) are powerless against the collusion of leading Western forces that continue to aid Israel.
What is the course to be followed then? It is obvious that no one has stopped any war or won it with words and declarations alone. War means a forceful solution to political issues. Therefore, until an alternative force is opposed to the American-Israeli and European-Israeli tandem, we will not see the light at the end of the Palestinian tunnel. And such might (or its demonstration) can be displayed not by Iran and Turkey, with all due respect or neutrality to their position, but by more powerful centers of the multipolar world (that is, Russia and China).
As you know, on December 6, 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a brief but politically intense and successful visit to the key countries of the Arab East – the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and on December 7, the Russian leader in Moscow had meetings with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Crown Prince of the Sultanate of Oman Theyazin bin Haitham Al Said. The head of the Russian state has built a very successful Middle East diplomacy aimed at strengthening interstate relations, increasing trade, economic and military-technical ties with these countries, whose position is paramount for the evolution of the “temperature in the region”.
It is important to note that, despite attempts at persuasion and pressure from the United States, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not agree to raise oil production to the detriment of Russia’s interests. Moscow and Riyadh, along with other Middle Eastern partners, have been cooperating very successfully within the framework of OPEC+, maintaining control over world oil and gas prices. Accordingly, positive negotiations with Iran and Oman, which control the Strait of Hormuz and are able to block this key sea artery (almost 75% of oil trade), create a solid foundation for Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East.
The fact that Riyadh concluded a major financial deal with the People’s Bank of China for a total of 50 billion yuan and created a new currency mechanism to reduce trade transactions in US dollars indicates serious changes in the Middle East architecture and global financial policy. In fact, following Saudi Arabia, many other Gulf countries (including Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman) may switch to alternative world currencies, which will reduce and put an end to the dollar’s monopoly on world markets.
The talks between Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi turned out to be remarkable in terms of reaching a major military deal related to the supply of modern Russian Su-35 fighter jets to Iran. This significantly changes the power balance in the Middle East and makes Russia a key global actor in the Middle East settlement.
Undoubtedly, in all the above-mentioned meetings with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Oman, President Putin discussed the topic of Gaza on December 6 and 7. To this should be added the regular negotiations on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict between Putin and Erdogan.
Moscow supports the proposals of its Middle Eastern partners aimed at an early ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, restoring peace, providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population, freeing all hostages, preventing the forcible deportation of Palestinians from the enclave and convening an international conference on the fate of Palestine.
It is no coincidence that Kamran Hasanov, a Russian Council on International Affairs expert, commenting on the Middle East visit of President Vladimir Putin and his meeting with the leader of Iran in Moscow, expressed the opinion that “Russia is perceived in the region as a serious player” and, perhaps, in the near future “some kind of joint initiative will be formed with the participation of the Saudis, Russia, the UAE, Iran and Turkey” aimed at ending the fighting in Gaza and establishing the State of Palestine.
Naturally, Russia stands for lasting peace in the Middle East with the preservation of Israel and a final solution to the Palestinian issue. The latter is possible with the cessation of the imperialist policy of the West, led by the United States, to exploit the resources of the countries of the Middle East and respect the interests of all peoples and states of the region. However, without the intervention of leading world centers (including Russia), such issues are unlikely to find a quick and fair solution.
Aleksandr SVARANTS, Doctor in Political Science, professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.