A brief expose of the Saudi position on peace treaties Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last week is provided by Salman al-Dossary, former editor-in-chief of the influential Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat:
“The angry [Palestinian] reaction has confirmed that the UAE was right in its sovereign decision to search for its vision of peace in the Middle East…. The feverish [Palestinian] attack on the new Bahrain-Israel peace agreement confirms not just to Bahrain, but to the rest of the Gulf that the support for the [Palestinian] cause for long decades has resulted in nothing but [Palestinian] aggression, attack and ingratitude…. There is more than one door to peace, not necessarily through the Palestinian Authority….
“In 2011, when Bahrain [a generous supporter of the Palestinians] faced the most dangerous threat [attempted coup] in its modern history … Iran stood behind that coup attempt … while the leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian components continued to strengthen their relationship with Tehran…. Not a single Palestinian demonstration in support of Bahrain took place….
“The relations with Tel Aviv … are a necessity in light of the current circumstances and the search for peace and stability.”
The Abraham Accords, as the peace agreements are known, have shed light on the following Middle East realities:
1. The more lethal the threats of Iran’s ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s Erdoğan to every pro-U.S. Arab regime, the more realistic is the Arab order of priorities, which increasingly focuses on threats that transcend the Palestinian issue and disagreements with Israel.
2. The more acute the threat, the more critical is Israel’s posture of deterrence for the survival of the pro-U.S. Arab regimes in the Gulf (e.g., Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain) and beyond (e.g., Jordan and Egypt).
3. The more extensive the U.S. military withdrawal from Central Asia and the Middle East, the more pivotal is Israel’s role as a force-multiplier for the United States and its Arab allies, sparing the need to deploy more U.S. aircraft carriers and ground troops to the Middle East, Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean.
4. The most paramount inducement for peace between Israel and pro-U.S. Arab regimes has been the Arab perception of Israel as the most effective bulwark against clear and present lethal threats.
5. The more oil-dependent the economy of the Arab oil-producing countries, the more urgent is the need to diversify that economy, and the more attractive Israel becomes as a catalyst of said diversification. The Arabs aim to leverage Israel’s innovative achievements in the areas of cybersecurity, robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, healthcare, biotech, medical tech, irrigation, agriculture, etc.
6. The pro-U.S. Arab regimes wish to leverage Israel’s positive standing among most U.S. constituents and legislators to enhance their geo-strategic cooperation with the United States.
7. The more aware the Arabs become of the benefits to be derived from peaceful coexistence with Israel, and the more imminent the lethal threats posed by Iran’s ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood, the more highlighted is the inherently destructive Palestinian track record. The latter consists of the Palestinian alliance with the rogue elements in the Middle East (e.g., Iran’s Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein and the Muslim Brotherhood) and beyond (e.g., Nazi Germany, the USSR, North Korea, Latin American and European terror organizations). Thus, Arabs consider the Palestinians as the role model of intra-Arab terrorism, subversion, treachery and ingratitude.
8. The conclusion of peace accords between Israel and Arab countries spotlights the intrinsic gap between the warm Arab talk and the cold-to-negative Arab walk on the proposed Palestinian state. Arabs follow the traditional Middle Eastern dictum: On words one doesn’t pay customs.
9. Israel’s peace accords with the UAE and Bahrain—just like its peace accords with Egypt and Jordan—draw attention to the well-documented fact that the Palestinian issue has not been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is not a core cause of Middle East turbulence and is not a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making.
10. Israel’s peace accords with Arab countries have refuted the politically correct assumption that, supposedly, the road to Israel-Arab peace goes through the Palestinian issue, which requires, ostensibly, Israeli land concessions.
11. Israel’s peace accords with Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Bahrain, and the overall Arab reaction to these accords, have proven that the road to Israel-Arab peace goes through a strong Israel.
12. Israel’s posture of deterrence has been dramatically enhanced since 1967, with its control of the Golan Heights and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria. A retreat from these critical topographic, geographic and historic landmarks would transform Israel from a national security asset for the United States, to a national security burden.
13. A retreat from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria would dramatically erode Israel’s posture of deterrence in the Middle East, which is characterized by violent unpredictability, instability and the tenuous nature of Arab regimes, policies and accords. Hence, it would threaten Israel’s own existence, and deprive the United States and the pro-U.S. Arab regimes of a uniquely stabilizing force in the face of the mutual threats of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey.
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.
This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.