Friday, May 19, 2017

MidEast Twilight Zone: Arab Countries Ponder Israel Ties

The Changing Reality of Arab-Israeli Ties - Evelyn Gordon (Commentary)
  • The Wall Street Journal reported on that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have grown tired of having their relationship with Israel held hostage to the Palestinian problem, and are discussing a proposal to normalize certain types of commercial relations with Israel in exchange for Israeli gestures toward the Palestinians.
  • In exchange for Israel freezing settlement construction in "certain areas" of the West Bank and relaxing its blockade of Gaza, the Arabs would establish direct telecommunication links with Israel, let Israeli aircraft overfly their countries, lift certain trade restrictions and perhaps grant visas to Israeli athletes and businessmen.
  • Even if the proposal goes nowhere, these details are significant. They show that Arab leaders are no longer willing to give the Palestinians (or Syria) a veto over their relations with Israel.
  • The last time Arab states proposed normalization with Israel (in the Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative of 2002), they conditioned it on Israel signing final-status agreements with both the Palestinians and Syria and withdrawing completely to the 1949 armistice lines.
  • The very fact that this proposal is being openly discussed shows that Arab-Israeli relations are thawing at a faster pace than anyone would have predicted a few years ago.

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