Inside Story
Arab Spring: An opportunity for Israel?
As the US defence secretary calls on Israel to end its growing isolation in the Middle East, how should Israel respond?
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2011 14:46

Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, has urged the Israeli government to "mend fences" with its neighbours and reverse a growing isolation in the Middle East.

In a speech in Washington, Panetta said Israel's concern over the Arab Spring revolts that have toppled long-time authoritarian leaders was understandable.

But he stressed that these changes in leadership are offering an opportunity for Israel to build regional support through strong diplomacy.

But how should Israel respond? And what does it mean for Israel's neighbours in a region being swept by change?

Inside Story, with presenter Hazim Sika discusses with guests Abdallah Schleifer, a professor of journalism at the American University in Cairo; Gregg Roman, the deputy director of the Global Research in International Affairs and a former Israeli Ministry of Defence official; and Cengiz Aktar, a professor at Bahcesehir University and columnist at the Turkish Daily News.

"I believe security is dependent on a strong military but it is also dependent on strong diplomacy. And unfortunately over the past year, we've seen Israel's isolation from its traditional securtiy partners in the region grow, and the pursuit of a comprehensive Middle East peace has effectively been put on hold."

Leon Panetta, US defence secretary

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