Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to Oman Shows That Improved Relations with Arab States Aren’t Dependent on the Peace Process

Last week, the Israeli prime minister—along with his wife and high-ranking officials—made a state visit to Oman, where they met with the country’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Nor has this been the only recent sign of Israel’s improving relations with the Arab world, as Aaron David Miller and Hillel Zand write:

On Sunday, the [Israeli] sports and culture minister Miri Regev . . . became the first senior Israeli official to visit Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The same day, after years of being forbidden to display national symbols at Gulf sporting events, the Israeli national anthem played when the Israeli judo team won a gold medal at the International Judo Federation’s Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi. Next week, Israel’s intelligence and transportation minister Yisrael Katz will visit Oman and its communications minister Ayoub Kara will visit Abu Dhabi. An Israeli gymnastics team is also currently competing in Qatar.

These moments of soft diplomacy appear to be bearing fruit for Israel’s foreign-policy agenda. After Netanyahu’s visit, Oman’s foreign minister stated, “Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this fact.”. . .

The Arab world’s new openness to Israel is driven in part by increasing impatience and annoyance with the Palestinians. . . . Add to this the Arab states’ fear of Iran and Sunni jihadists, and a desire to please the Trump administration—and suddenly it’s obvious that Israel and its neighbors are bound by common interests. . . .

The upshot of all of this isn’t that the Arab world is moving at breakneck speed to desert the Palestinians, or to normalize ties with Israel fully. But Netanyahu appears to be dealing with an Arab world ready to engage incrementally with Israel despite the fact that a peace deal is not forthcoming. In a volatile and combustible Middle East, the prime minister should enjoy his thaw while it lasts.

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Miri Regev, Oman, United Arab Emirates

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy