An Israeli Nonaggression Pact with Sympathetic Arab States Would Be an Important Step on the Road to Peace

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.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Bahrain, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Morocco, 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