Israel’s Secret, and Not-So-Secret, Friends in the Arab World

April 2 2020

One of the big stories to come out of the Middle East in the past decade has been the warming relations between Jerusalem and a number of Arab states, brought together by shared concerns over the growing power of Iran. But these informal, quiet alliances go back much further, explains Clive Jones:

[W]e can trace Israel’s ties to Oman back to the mid-1970s, when Israel offered and provided advice to Sultan Qaboos on border security, when he was faced with the Marxist-oriented Dhofar Rebellion. Israel provided intelligence based on its own experience of securing its borders against the PLO cross-border attacks from Jordan.

The real benchmark, [however], was the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, which allowed the opening of low-level ties between Israel and many Gulf countries. Of course, these ties fell into disarray following the outbreak of the second intifada. Nonetheless, the opening of low-level ties after Oslo set a precedent for further interactions in the future, and even when some Gulf states such as Oman and Qatar [felt compelled] to suspend ties, institutional links often continued in order to maintain diplomatic dialogue.

In the longer term, these links have another dynamic: Israel has proved to the Gulf states, based on its own performance against its external threats, that it is willing to take on what is seen as Iranian aggression and aggrandizement in Lebanon and Syria, demonstrating that it is a partner in curbing Iranian military influence throughout the region. [Thus] many Gulf states who see Israel as more reliable than the Trump administration, whose unpredictability means that Gulf states cannot be sure of what the medium- to long-term U.S. policy in the Middle East and Gulf region is going to look like.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Oman, Oslo Accords, Qatar

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror