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Israeli Coordination with Arab States Isn’t New. Talking about It Is

Much has been made of the recent high-level contacts between Israel and Sunni Arab states, including those with which it has no formal relations. But such contacts have been fairly common since the 1990s, even if largely unacknowledged. What is new, writes David Pollock, is the public debate about the subject in the Arabic media:

Particularly noteworthy . . . is a long article in the current issue of the popular and influential pan-Arab weekly al-Majalla, based in London but widely circulated and read in both print and online editions [throughout the Middle East]. This article not only reviews the long history of Arab-Israeli relations, but also cites statements [on the subject] by the Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer at great length.

Responses [to this article] by Saudi writers are mixed, but some are very vocally in favor of dealing with Israel. . . . Among Egyptian writers, the idea of regular dealings with Israel still excites fierce debate, even after nearly four decades of official peace. . . . [But] even some Egyptian writers and academics most critical of ties to Israel acknowledge that the younger generation, turned against Iran, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood both by their own experience and by their government’s changing positions, is losing some of its animosity toward [the Jewish state]. . . .

While Arab publics overwhelmingly dislike Israel (and Jews), solid majorities in most recent surveys, on the order of 60 percent, nevertheless voice support for a “two-state solution,” which implies peace with the Jewish state. And they do so even when the question is worded to call explicitly for peace with Israel, or for abandoning the struggle to liberate all of Palestine. The exception . . . is the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza, where support for a two-state solution has lately fallen to just below the halfway mark. . . .

The conclusion is clear: today a broader regional approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking, rather than a strictly bilateral Israeli-Palestinian one, offers somewhat better prospects of success—whether at the official, elite, media, or even popular levels. Normalization with Israel remains controversial in Arab circles, but it is no longer taboo. . . . The next U.S. administration would do well to ponder this unaccustomed situation, and to adjust its policies accordingly.

Read more at Washington Institute

More about: Arab anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, Israel-Arab relations, Palestinian public opinion

 

Putting Aside the Pious Lies about the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Jan. 23 2018

In light of recent developments, including Mahmoud Abbas’s unusually frank speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leadership, Moshe Arens advocates jettisoning some frequently mouthed but clearly false assumptions about Israel’s situation, beginning with the idea that the U.S. should act as a neutral party in negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. (Free registration may be required.)

The United States cannot be, and has never been, neutral in mediating the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is the leader of the world’s democratic community of nations and cannot assume a neutral position between democratic Israel and the Palestinians, whether represented by an autocratic leadership that glorifies acts of terror or by Islamic fundamentalists who carry out acts of terror. . . .

In recent years the tectonic shifts in the Arab world, the lower price of oil, and the decreased importance attached to the Palestinian issue in much of the region, have essentially removed the main incentive the United States had in past years to stay involved in the conflict. . . .

Despite the conventional wisdom that the core issues—such as Jerusalem or the fate of Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines—are the major stumbling blocks to an agreement, the issue for which there seems to be no solution in sight at the moment is making sure that any Israeli military withdrawal will not result in rockets being launched against Israel’s population centers from areas that are turned over to the Palestinians. . . .

Does that mean that Israel is left with a choice between a state with a Palestinian majority or an apartheid state, as claimed by Israel’s left? This imaginary dilemma is based on a deterministic theory of history, which disregards all other possible alternatives in the years to come, and on questionable demographic predictions. What the left is really saying is this: better rockets on Tel Aviv than a continuation of Israeli military control over Judea and Samaria. There is little support in Israel for that view.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, US-Israel relations