Israel Enters the Arab World

(SAPIR: A Journal of Jewish Conversations) Dore Gold - When Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress in 2015 to make the case against the Iran nuclear deal, many Arab heads of state heard him lay out the evidence for Iran's plans for increased control of the Middle East and found themselves nodding in agreement. With hindsight, Netanyahu's controversial appearance looks like the catalyst that accelerated rapprochement between Israel and many Arab states. It set the stage for the Abraham Accords in 2020, which formalized new normalization agreements between Israel and key Arab states. Iranian aggression - more than any peace plan or blueprint for economic cooperation - became the glue that was binding Israel and some of its former adversaries. The Israeli prime minister explained how four Arab capitals - Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa - had fallen under Iranian domination. "If Iran's aggression is left unchecked," he warned, "more will surely follow." In fact, Iranian media at the time was predicting the imminent fall of Saudi Arabia. Without having planned it, Israel's diplomatic campaign against the Iran deal opened its door to the Arab world. Communication channels soon opened between Arab states and Israel, even in the absence of formal agreements. Israel has achieved a level of integration with a large part of the Arab world that would have been unthinkable not long ago. The threat Israel and many Arab states face is the same. Tehran likes to remind its people that the Arab states had once been part of its territory, and that those lands must one day be returned to Iran. A common threat, to adapt a phrase, is a terrible thing to waste. The time to move this improbable, promising, and essential alliance forward is now. The writer, former Israeli ambassador to the UN and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

2021-08-05 00:00:00

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