February 3, 2011

The canard that the biggest cause of instability in the Middle East is the situation of the Palestinians has, in Egypt and Tunisia, been exposed before the eyes of the world.
It is bread and freedom that gets Arabs on to the streets. But the certainty ends there; even Mossad was caught on the hop by events in Egypt. What we can say for sure is that, for Israel, an Islamist - and thus confrontational - Egypt would amount to a true strategic crisis.

Israel has already lost its other key regional ally in Turkey. D├ętente with Syria looks unlikely, given that Bashar al-Assad is blaming Egypt's revolution on its policy towards Israel. Only Jordan remains, and that could well be the next domino to fall.

Picture an Israel encircled by Hizbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran and you wonder where Israel can turn for regional allies. Until, paradoxically, you think of her closest neighbour of all - the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas may still be the most likely partner in any future deal-making, as the Palestine Papers have suggested. In a world of growing uncertainty, more assumptions may yet be turned on their heads.

Last updated: 2:09pm, February 3 2011