Reportedly, Israel has begun negotiations, mediated by the U.S., to establish a nonaggression pact with Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco. This would bring the hardly secret but still covert ties between these countries and Jerusalem into the open. Without involving a complete normalization of diplomatic relations, such a pact would nevertheless constitute a move in that direction. Yoni Ben Menachem comments:
The proposed agreement includes maintaining friendly ties between Israel and these Arab countries based on UN treaties and international law, and the adoption of steps required to prevent hostile actions such as the threat of war or terror activities, violence, or incitement.
The Palestinian Authority is very angry about the Gulf States’ policy of establishing relations with Israel before a permanent settlement has been reached between Israel and the Palestinians. . . . But Israel’s attempt to advance a non-aggression agreement with four Arab countries is significant. This message should filter through to the Arab world and to the Palestinians who seek to block the normalization of relations with Israel.
Israel’s policy of breaking the linkage established by the Palestinians between normalizing relations with Israel and the Israel-Palestinian peace process is correct. The Palestinian problem no longer leads the Arab countries’ list of priorities. The Iranian danger has overtaken it, and in any case, the Palestinian arena is divided between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with the Palestinian leadership unable to reach a national agreement that would allow serious negotiations with Israel with results binding upon all Palestinians.