What ‘New Phase’ of Israel’s Relations with the Arab World? | New Eastern Outlook


29-11-18 10:15:00,


On November 7, 2018, Israel’s Intelligence and Transportation minister made a speech in Oman, pushing for greater cooperation between Israel and the Arab world, presenting it as something extremely beneficial for the people and the region on the whole. The speech had been preceded by Netanyahu’s visit to Oman in October 2018 and culture and sports minister’s visit to UAE in the same month, signalling Israel’s not only highly increased diplomatic activity in the Arab world, but also a clear emphasis on people-to-people contact, such as through sports, to push for greater acceptability of the notion of ‘friendship with Israel.’ In the last week of November, Israel hosted Chad’s president in a first ever such visit to Israel after Chad had ended its diplomatic relations with Israel in 1972, indicating how Israel wasn’t going to confine its diplomatic out-reach to Gulf only. Indeed, the intention is to expand in the Aran world, in and beyond the Middle East as Netanyahu told Chad president about his intention to visit “more Arab states” soon.

The probable expansion of Israeli ties with Arab states is likely to impact the Palestinian question very powerfully. While Chad’s president did try to make it clear that “the renewal of diplomatic ties between us, which I very much want, is not something that can make the Palestinian issue disappear,” the very reason why Israel is expanding its ties is to win greater acceptability of its peace-deal with the Palestinians, which means, in one way or the other, pressure from Israeli friends in the Arab world on the Palestinians to accept the made-in-USA “deal of the century.”

How Israeli relations with the Arab world are likely to lead to marginalisation of the Palestinian issue is evident from how many Arab leaders, including Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Bin Salman, have already begun trying to ‘convince’ the Palestinians of the potential benefits of the deal. The growing relations are, therefore, going to impact Palestine in a powerful way. “All countries and institutions must boycott the extremist government of Israel and impose a siege on it because of its settlement activities, its occupation of Palestinian land,” said Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior Palestinian official.

One important reason for this pressure being felt in the Palestine is that the Arab discourse on Palestinian struggle against Israel will change due to greater security cooperation between Israel and the Arab states.

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