In this episode of “Our Middle East,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Dan Diker and JCPA analyst, Arab affairs expert and veteran journalist Yoni Ben Menahem discuss talk of an American-initiated Saudi-Israeli peace and normalization deal after U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was dispatched to Jeddah to speak with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.
Diker and Ben Menahem agree that though advantageous to the Saudis and Americans, such a deal would prove a honey trap for Israel.
Too Many Demands
Saudi Arabia would likely demand civilian nuclear capabilities; freezing construction of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria; and Israeli withdrawal to 1967 lines in order to establish a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem—all traditional Saudi demands that MBS inherited from his predecessors. All of these would prove “suicidal” to Israel in Diker’s words, especially since the Palestinian street is not clamoring for peace. and an overwhelming majority do not want to be ruled by a corrupt and weakened Palestinian Authority.
Ben Menahem says of the West Bank population and its terror groups: “Some 90% support the armed struggle against Israel. … They want them to spread all over the West Bank, topple the regime of the P.A. … and fight Israel. They’re not talking about peace and a two-state solution. This is an illusion and dream of the Biden administration.”
Netanyahu and Biden Legacies
Ben Menahem is worried that in an effort to secure both their legacies, Israel will make concessions that are not good for it in order to achieve “peace.” Comparing it to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, he said: “You can never say it won’t happen when politicians want to have a legacy and they change their mind. You don’t know what kind of pressures are put on them and what are their personal considerations. This is very alarming.”
The American Misunderstanding and the Iranian Octopus
According to Diker and Ben-Menahem, the United States doesn’t thoroughly understand the security situation in Israel. The Iranians through their proxies are now active in Judea and Samaria, and have started shooting primitive rockets from there. “They are hanging over Tel Aviv. This is why this is really a strategic war over Israel’s home front.”