John Kerry's Israel Speech Elicits a Shrug in the Arab World

(New York Times) Ben Hubbard - The Palestinian issue today is not as central as it once was in the wider Arab consciousness. While most Arab states remain unlikely to recognize Israel any time soon, the Arab Spring uprisings and the violence that followed in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya have left heads of state and their populations more focused on domestic concerns. And the rising influence of Iran has created new regional worries for Persian Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, which now share a strategic interest with Israel in checking Iranian power. "Arab countries have sociopolitical problems that trump the Palestinian cause," said Ziad A. Akl, a senior researcher at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, noting that few Arab governments have done much for the Palestinians over the last decade. Now, he said, "a lot of Arab nations have interests with Israel, and it is part of their national security equation. They have realized that Israel is a fact that they have to live with." The region's population is also skewed young, and younger Arabs feel less loyalty to the Palestinians than their elders, said Bassel Salloukh, a professor of political science at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. "There are generations of Arabs who have no idea what Palestine symbolizes."

2016-12-30 00:00:00

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