The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) has called for Israel to be admitted into NATO in order to guarantee its survival in the future.
Ronald Lauder, writing in German newspaper Die Welt, said: “Israel needs real guarantees for its security.
“European NATO member states – including Turkey – must admit the state of Israel into the Western alliance.”
Mr Lauder referred to the anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and said they were reminders of how “unpredictable” developments in the Middle East were.
But he said that NATO membership “would send a strong signal to other countries not to take on Israel”.
“Not to send such a signal or to discard it as totally unrealistic or counterproductive [would] be perceived by the enemies of the West as an encouragement to further intensify their assault on the Jewish state.”
Founded largely as an anti-communist group more than 60 years ago, NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – now has 28 member states including Albania, Greece and Iceland. It has dispatched troops to conflicts in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Mr Lauder said NATO is now facing new challenges including Islamist terrorism and “the quest for power and influence by countries that have no respect for democracy and freedom”.
Accusing Europe of taking “the back seat” in the past when Israel was under threat, he said: “This will not be possible in the future. Europe needs to say what it wants.
“Lofty declarations regarding Israel’s right to live in peace and security are not enough.”