Caught Between the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia, Arab Jerusalem Goes Its Own Way

June 28 2019

Recently, public institutions—including hospitals—in eastern Jerusalem have reported that they have stopped receiving funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Meanwhile, Al-Quds University, a Jerusalem-based Palestinian institution, split with the PA by applying to join the Israel’s Council for Higher Education. Pinḥas Inbari explains that these developments suggest that Arab Jerusalemites—whose legal status is intermediate between that of Palestinians and that of Arab Israelis—increasingly see themselves as distinct from West Bank Palestinians:

Saudi Arabia [has] refused to recognize travel documents that are not proper passports. This means that residents of eastern Jerusalem need to choose between a Palestinian or Israeli passport, and they are choosing the Israeli option. The Saudis [have likewise called] for Jordan to give full citizenship to many Palestinians who are not yet considered Jordanian nationals, and that Lebanon is obliged to absorb its Palestinian refugees. . . .

[Meanwhile], the PA headquarters was particularly incensed by the fact that on the “global day of rage” marking the transfer of the [U.S. embassy to Jerusalem], Arab Jerusalemite and Arab-Israeli youths partied with drinking and dancing [at unrelated celebrations in the West Bank city of] Rawabi instead of attacking IDF checkpoints.

As a result, [the PA] government circulated an order requiring Israeli Arabs and residents of eastern Jerusalem to report to the police if they want to rent an apartment in Ramallah or the West Bank in general. In other words, for the first time, the Palestinian Authority has recognized that residents of eastern Jerusalem are part of the Israeli Arab community and could be potentially recruited by Israeli intelligence against the Palestinian Authority.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy