OpinionMiddle East

Diplomatic fiasco? Israeli press should wait before gloating

Despite what some Israeli pundits would have us believe about the Abraham Accords, ultimately, all of our neighbors in the region recognize the benefits of peace with Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyani wave from the Blue Room balcony during the Abraham Accords signing on Sept. 15, 2020. Credit: White House/Tia Dufour.
U.S. President Donald Trump, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyani wave from the Blue Room balcony during the Abraham Accords signing on Sept. 15, 2020. Credit: White House/Tia Dufour.
Eyal Zisser
Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

The gloating by several Israeli media outlets over the cancellation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United Arab Emirates last week, along with the “crisis” with Jordan, tells us more about the attitudes of the pundits than about Israel’s relations with the Arab world.

The trip to the UAE will likely take place sometime soon and relations with Jordan will be also restored, and essentially already have been despite the inherent complexities and challenges, because the process of Israel’s breakthrough into the Arab world cannot be stopped.

When the Abraham Accords were signed by Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, followed by the normalization agreements with Sudan and Morocco, claims were made that these were not historic breakthroughs, rather merely an attempt by these countries to get closer to the Trump administration. When Trump left the White House, these same people expected the peace treaties to collapse and the Arabs to turn a cold shoulder to Israel.

But just the opposite has happened. Despite the Biden administration’s chilly approach to America’s friends in the Persian Gulf and its appeasement of the Iranians, relations between Israel and the Gulf states have only grown stronger. Even though the prime minister didn’t travel to the UAE last week, we did receive news that the UAE will invest $10 billion in the Israeli economy.

The uniqueness of the Abraham Accords is the winning combination of Arab rulers recognizing the enormous economic and security benefits of bolstering ties with Israel, and the way Israel has been warmly received by public opinion in the Gulf. As we know, this is not the case in other Arab countries, whose citizens recognize the importance of relations with Israel and don’t want another war with it, but at the same time are imbued, to say the least, with fire and passion in relation to Israel and struggle to overcome historic animosities.

Jordan is a good example. Bumps in the road are a built-in aspect of the relationship between Jerusalem and Amman, irrespective of who the Jordanian ruler is or the makeup of the Israeli government. The Jordanian establishment, spearheaded by the royal family, understands that maintaining relations with Israel is a Jordanian interest and seeks the economic and other benefits this relationship can provide.

But it is also hostage to the Jordanian street, which tends to vent its frustrations about its situation at home through hostility toward Israel. For its part, Israel shows understanding and usually moves on, and the Jordanians, too, exhibit patience every time they are confronted with the difficulties posed by an Israeli bureaucracy insensitive to the Jordanian reality.

These media-contrived mountains out of molehills, however, are destined to pass, the train of peace firmly on its tracks. This train cannot be stopped, because it is moving on the solid ground of Israel’s economic, security and diplomatic might, which is recognized by all its neighbors.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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