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No longer a pariah state?

Tel Aviv at night. Rudy Balasko/Getty Images

All of a sudden Israel feels like a place of “buoyant optimism”, says Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times. The divisive former PM Benjamin Netanyahu is out of power and on trial, and there’s now a broad coalition government that includes an Arab Israeli party. The country leads the world in Covid vaccinations and it’s riding a tech boom – 10% of the world’s “unicorn” start-ups (those valued at $1bn or more) are Israeli, and its per capita income is higher than the UK’s. Thanks to its tech sector and the Abraham Accords, which have “normalised relations” with the UAE, Bahrain and other Arab countries, Israel feels as if it’s leaving its pariah status behind. “The world wants what Israel is selling.”

Shifts in geopolitics have also worked in Israel’s favour. Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict used to be “the holy grail of international politics”. No longer. Washington is preoccupied with China and once aggressive Arab neighbours are more worried about Iran. The implications for the Palestinians are “bleak”. According to Humans Rights Watch, they live under an Israeli version of apartheid. When 260 Palestinians were killed in fighting between Hamas and Israel in May, international condemnation subsided quickly. But there’s a case for optimism. When the peace process collapsed two decades ago, it was amid the terror attacks of the second intifada. Things feel different now. It may be wishful thinking, but a more secure and optimistic Israel “could also be a more generous country”.