Can Israel and the Arab States Be Friends?

(New York Times) Editorial - There is evidence that ties between Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states and Israel are not only improving but, after developing in secret over many years, could evolve into a more explicit alliance as a result of their mutual distrust of Iran. Israel and the Sunni Arab states last fought a war in 1973. Now, after decades of hostility, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is seeking to engage his country's former enemies. The Israelis and the Saudis have reasons to work together. They share antipathy toward Iran, the leading Shiite-majority country. Both are worried about regional instability. Both are upset with the U.S. over the Iranian nuclear deal. For some time, Israeli and Saudi officials have been cooperating covertly on security and intelligence matters. Significantly, Saudi Arabia has also begun a media campaign in the kingdom, apparently to prepare its citizens for better relations with Israel. Mr. Netanyahu is determined to expand the number of countries that recognize his state and to capitalize on the economic potential of trade between it and the Arab states. He has repaired relations with Turkey and has sought to strengthen ties with Africa. Egypt has also been pursuing warmer ties with Israel since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became Egypt's president in 2014. Mr. Netanyahu has made clear his preference for improving relations with the Arab states first, saying Israel would then be in a stronger position to make peace with the Palestinians later on.

2016-08-29 00:00:00

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