The Path to Saudi-Israel Peace Could Lead through Jordan

The Israeli press recently reported on a series of long-rumored, if previously unconfirmed, visits by Israeli officials to Saudi Arabia going back to 2012. Among those who came to the kingdom and met with its senior leaders were then-IDF Chief of Staff, now-Foreign Minister Benny Gantz and, in 2020, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. To Jonathan Schanzer, shared concerns over the fate of Jordan—which is threatened by the growing Iranian presence in Syria—could encourage Riyadh and Jerusalem to take their relationship out of the shadows:

In recent years, the Israelis have been slugging it out with the Iranians in Syria, in cyberspace, on the high seas, and beyond. It’s an asymmetric campaign that the Israelis call “the war between wars.” It has proved two things to the Arab states. First, Israel is not afraid to battle Riyadh’s mortal enemy. Second, the Islamic Republic is not as strong as many believed.

Part of Iran’s expansion effort, as the Jordanian monarch noted [in a recent interview], includes the destabilization of Jordan from the north, where drug smugglers are already wreaking havoc. Jordan also faces a threat from the south, with Iranian assets reportedly operating in the Red Sea. This all amounts to a direct threat to both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Both view the Hashemite kingdom as a valuable asset. Stability on their respective borders is something both countries will protect at great cost.

Jordan’s security woes can help to cement an emerging alliance between Israel and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These two unlikely partners both view Iran as a mortal enemy that threatens the broader Middle East. They both share borders with Jordan. And they both view Jordanian stability as critical to their national security.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf