As the long and bitter winter sets in on the war ravaged land of the Ukraine and as over 10 million Ukrainians are left with no electricity or heating, the eminent humanitarian crises is upon us; it’s not surprising that Benjamin Netanyahu’s name keeps popping up as the preferred leader to negotiate a settlement between President Putin and President Zelenskyy. In a recent interview held on a popular and respected American news show, Netanyahu confirmed that he was approached to mediate a resolution between Russia and Ukraine: “I can tell you that I was approached, about a year ago, to enter this and I said ‘No; our prime minister tried his hand at it at the time, unsuccessfully, and I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” Netanyahu said. In the interview Netanyahu stated that addressing the Ukrainian issue will be one of the first things that he will look at if and when he heads Israel’s newly elected government but noted the importance of balancing the concerns of Ukraine with the security relations with Russia and the implications for Israel’s strategic operations in the Middle East against the Iranian threat. How can Netanyahu be instrumental in advancing an agreement between Russia and the Ukraine when so many others have failed this past year?
The Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement was signed in 1979, and has been upheld by both sides meticulously weathering over forty years of political upheavals, conventional as well as terror wars, and numerous strategic pitfalls all along the way. The “Arab Spring”, initiated and orchestrated by President Obama in 2010, was by far the greatest threat to the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement, yet despite the turmoil and political instability in Egypt as a result of the “Arab Spring”, the peace agreement with Israel was upheld. The Palestinian terror leadership has tried to create from day one tension between Egypt and Israel with the goal of derailing the peace agreement, by conducting a non-stop terror war against Israelis and the State of Israel, but to no avail. The “Egyptian Model” has triumphed all of these attempts to derail the peace agreement between two sovereign states; so what’s the secret to this success and how is it relevant to the war between Ukraine and Russia, and lastly why is Benjamin Netanyahu the right international leader, at the right time to appeal to both sides to negotiate a settlement.
The conceptual underpinning of the “Egyptian Model” that enabled Israel to sign an enduring and sustainable peace agreement with Egypt over four decades ago is based on a unique understanding that nations can share control over sovereign national land. The “Egyptian Model” allowed Israel to withdraw troops and military control of sovereign Egyptian land conquered in previous wars between the two nations and return to the internationally recognized border. Israel received in return from Egypt that she willingly forfeits absolute sovereign control over the Sinai Peninsula, a large strategic land mass adjacent to Israel. Egypt agreed to limitations on her sovereignty by accepting limitations on introducing and allowing movement and the placement of military forces, installations, and weaponry in the Sinai Peninsula without Israel’s full prior consent. This is the gist of the “Egyptian Model”, shared sovereignty over contested land or due to a strategic threat to a neighboring nation.
The current stalemate between Russia and the Ukraine is based on the following; the Russian government has expressed her desire that the Ukrainian government acknowledge Moscow's annexation of southern and eastern regions. Ukraine says every Russian soldier must leave its territory, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. The Ukrainian government applied to be accepted into NATO and will end her neutrality towards Russia.
All armed conflicts in modern history have eventually ended through negotiations, and this conflict will be no different. Should the return to the status quo prior to the invasion of the Ukraine by Russian be impossible, international supervised referendums in the territory claimed by Russia would most likely be the preferred option. The adoption of the “Egyptian Model” will give a practical negotiating platform that can bridge the demands of both sides simply by both sides accepting the idea of forfeiting land while accepting some form of shared sovereignty over Ukrainian land. The continued stalemate of the West supporting Ukraine unconditionally and providing advanced weaponry to counter Russian forces will quickly become unsustainable and a threat on the greater European continent.
This past week it was reported that Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia called Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his re-election as Prime Minister of Israel. The content of the call was not disclosed, however all indications show that the call dealt with ending the Ukrainian-Russian stalemate, and coordinating with Russia, Israel’s continuing shadow war against Iranian forces in Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. With Russian forces stationed throughout the Middle East, coordination with Russia is necessary to allow Israel to maintain her dominance in aerial warfare and uncontested control of the skies throughout the region. With a new strategic alignment in the Middle East emerging between Israel and additional Arab nations; this new Arab-Israeli coalition will be able to counter Iran and its radical Arab proxies. So both Putin and Netanyahu have the ability to help one another and on the way keep 10 million Ukrainians from freezing to death as winter takes its toll.
In the same manner that the old structure of the Arab-Israel conflict that defined the Middle East for generations—during and shortly after the Cold War—is now being replaced by a strengthening Arab-Israeli coalition against Iran and its radical Arab proxies, a similar process can be initiated between Russia and the Ukraine. Should the Ukraine become part of the NATO defense coalition, a major change of the old cold war structure in Europe would enable Ukraine to agree to some form of shared sovereignty based on the “Egyptian Model” paving the way for concluding a peace agreement between Russia and the Ukraine. Benjamin Netanyahu is the right political leader, at the right time, enjoying the respect and trust of Putin and Zelensky to make this happen and soon.