The heady excitement over the Abraham Accords overlooked Israel’s core strategic problems. The United Arab Emirates deal may have led to business ties and a certain amount of (mostly one-way) tourism, but then rockets from the terrorist territories once again began raining down on major Israeli cities.
The covert price for the Abraham Accords appeared to be the end of any talk of Israel annexing its own territory. And being able to visit Emirati hotels is a poor exchange for the failure to permanently secure Israeli territory.
Now the Biden administration is talking about a Saudi deal, and that appears to be sidelining the issue of the Israeli government’s judicial reform. Without judicial reform, the country is being governed by a shadow leftist government embedded in the judiciary that sides with the terrorists and their allies over Israelis, and holds any elected democratic government hostage with its demands.
Netanyahu is once again eager to move past a conservative demand with an exciting shiny object.
A Saudi deal seems like a game changer, and would open up new markets, a matter of great interest to Israeli oligarchs and elites, but would have minimal impact on Israel’s security situation. The Israeli deals with its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, remain a hostile “cold peace” based on the victories of 1967 and 1973 and Israel’s strategic superiority.
Egyptian and Jordanian politicians, and the general public in these countries, hate Israel. And harbor terrorists, like the killer of Malki Roth and the “Island of Peace” mass murderer of teenage girls. Events like those depicted in the movie and musical “The Band’s Visit” remain entirely fictional because of a cultural boycott that has never been lifted by either Egypt or Jordan. A permanent Muslim Brotherhood takeover in either country would lead to an eventual war.
The Saudis could potentially neutralize some of that hostility that they have funded over the years in the United States, Europe and across the Muslim world. The question is, will they? The UAE continues funding the Palestinian Authority, and while it has broken with the Muslim Brotherhood over a coup attempt, it funds other Islamists. The Saudis have a key role in funding international Islamist expansionism. It is unlikely that they will step back from that core soft-power strategy.
The Abraham Accords are basically a regional pact to oppose Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. They are not the dawn of a new age of enlightenment and peace.
Economic and regional strategic agreements with enemy states are worth celebrating, and the Abraham Accords to mark the failure of the effort to isolate Israel. But Israel faces a different set of threats in 2023 than it did in 1977.
Beyond Iran, Israel faces serious internal threats from the disastrous failed Oslo peace accords, which have led to the rise of a severe terrorist threat inside its own borders. Rocket attacks now regularly send Israelis in major cities to bomb shelters: a reality that would have been nearly unthinkable a few decades ago. And there is every reason to think that the situation will only continue to escalate.
This enemy population remains by far the biggest threat to Israel’s survival. This threat is often disregarded by its elites, who focus on geopolitical strategies while ignoring the threat at home. Until Israel resolves this threat, its position will remain dangerously precarious.
As the author and researcher Opher Segal notes, “The Jews were expelled from the Arab world after being dispossessed of their lands about eight times the size of today’s Israel. Israel absorbed approximately 900,000 refugees from the Arab world alone. Unlike the Arab refugees, Jews did not have a U.N. commission to support them in their new country Israel. The U.N. supports the Arab refugees to this very day.”
He continues: “As a result of Israel’s victory during its War of Independence, the Arab world refused to receive and still refuse to absorb their 600,000 Arab brethren. That is the root issue until this very day. Despite Israel’s additional victories in 1956, 1967, 1973, and numerous other clashes through the years of Israel’s 75 years of independence, Arab countries did not relent.”
“Solving the Arab refugee issue must be addressed. The demand that Israel will resolve the Arab refugee issue unilaterally is simply unrealistic. The Arab refugees’ remedial methodology should be the collective responsibility of all the nations of the region and not only Israel.
“If there is to be a just resolution for Arab refugees, the playing field must be egalitarian. Each country will be required to carry some of the burden: Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman must all share in the responsibilities of resolving the Arab refugee dilemma.
“However, the new constructs must take into consideration that there are two sides to the coin of justice. Jews who became refugees as a result of forced exile from the Arab countries number more than 900,000.
“Both refugee groups should be treated on an equal footing. A comprehensive agreement of territorial and financial compensations should be required by all parties. Quid- pro-quo!”
It is unlikely that the Saudis or Emiratis will accept any of the Arab Muslim colonists occupying parts of Israel who falsely describe themselves as “Palestinians”, but without some sort of population transfer, the ticking population time bomb remains. As a starting point, Israel will have to neutralize Fatah, Hamas and other terrorist groups occupying parts of Israel as part of a failed plan to end the conflict through autonomous zones. It will also have to tackle the population question, without which no peace is possible.