The Potential Costs of Peace with Saudi Arabia

June 16 2022

Late last week, the Biden administration announced that it would reopen the American Office of Palestinian Affairs in Jerusalem, reversing a move by the former president Donald Trump. Benny Avni reports:

The new office would be housed in the same building where the consulate for Palestinian affairs used to reside. The building is in the western section of the city, which is predominantly Jewish. The American embassy is also situated in the western part of the capital. The move . . . is bound to anger Israeli officials and their supporters in Washington. It also might well violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act, a 1995 bipartisan law that dictated the move of the American embassy to the Israeli capital from Tel Aviv.

Several American presidents cited security considerations for keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv before President Trump finally obeyed the law in 2018 and relocated the embassy to Jerusalem. Contrary to predictions that this would lead to riots in Arab countries, the embassy move opened the way to a new round of peacemaking that was followed by the Abraham Accords.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has long insisted any warming of relations between his country and Israel is linked to progress toward the formation of a Palestinian state. He pushes for implementing the Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative, signed at Beirut in 2002. . . . Washington’s latest gesture, signaling to Palestinians that they could have parts of Jerusalem as their capital, might well be designed to satisfy the aging king’s demand, and a return to the Arab initiative. It would also signal a return to the Washington establishment’s received wisdom that, like the Arab plan, posits that no new peace between Arab countries and Israel can be achieved as long as the Israel-Palestinian dispute remains unresolved.

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Read more at New York Sun

More about: Arab peace initiative, Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia, US-Israel relations

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism