Last week, representatives of over 60 countries—Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel among them—gathered in Warsaw to discuss Middle Eastern security. For the U.S., which organized the event, it was primarily an opportunity to solidify an alliance to contain Iran, and thus representatives from ten Arab states attended, even allowing themselves to be photographed with the Israeli prime minister. Clifford May writes that the conference may have changed little, but it revealed much:
The Arab states and the Jewish state agree, as does the current U.S. administration, that the most serious threat to peace and security in the Middle East is the Islamic Republic of Iran. America’s West European friends, by contrast, are ambivalent—despite Tehran’s . . . attempt to bomb a rally of Iranian dissidents in Paris last summer and to assassinate a political foe in Denmark last October, and despite credible Dutch accusations last month of Iranian involvement in four additional assassination and bomb plots since 2015. . . .
[For their part], the Arab diplomats gathered in Warsaw are probably not, in their heart of hearts, enthusiastic about the exercise of self-determination by the Jewish people in part of its ancient homeland. But no other state in the region has both the will and the military power to stand up to the Shiite mullahs. Israelis have become the strategic partner of the Sunni Arabs because there’s no one else. . . .
In theory, increasing Arab-Israeli rapprochement should make it easier to find a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In practice, don’t bet on it. Palestinian officials denounced the Warsaw conference as a “conspiracy aimed at eliminating the Palestinian cause.” . . . The Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is . . . savvy enough to understand that any agreement with Israel will be seen as a betrayal and a crime not just by Hamas but also by Tehran and the various jihadist groups. So long as the Islamic Republic stands a chance of emerging as the regional hegemon, no Palestinian leader can sign a peace treaty with Israel—no matter how beneficial for Palestinians—without painting a bull’s eye on his back. . . .
The last time Israelis and Arabs got together to discuss Middle Eastern peace and security was nearly 30 years ago. Conventional wisdom held that the Madrid conference of 1991 was a huge success. Conventional wisdom turned out to be wrong.