In marmur, Our Virtual Mishkan

The Deal with The Emirates

It would be too naïve to assume that the leaders of the Emirates have embraced Zionism and accepted Israel as an ally. It would be equally naïve to assume that the same Arab politicians have been so troubled by the prospect of Israel annexing part of what is now Palestine and, therefore, have sacrificed themselves by making peace with the Jewish state on condition that its current prime minister decides not to proceed with his annexation plan. Most, if not all, Arab states have given up on the Palestinians long ago, They may be happy to see their Muslim brethren to trouble the Jews but there is little to suggest that they would come out in their defence. They may not love Israel yet deem it expedient to befriend it.

It is more realistic to believe that the recent much-heralded decision by the Emirates to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel is a manifestation of the principle that my enemy’s enemy should be my friend. Th threat that Iran is posing to Muslim states in the region has forced many of them to seek out Israel as the power that can contain Iranian aggression. Iran may hire stooges like Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza to be a nuisance – though not a real threat – to the existence of Israel, but it knows very well that a direct attack would spell suicide for Iran.

In recent years Iran has endured countess Israeli attacks on its bases in countries along Israel’s borders without daring to retaliate; it has limited itself to empty threats and inflated hate rhetoric. It also knows that an overt attack on Israel would give the United States reason to step in. And Egypt and Jordan, neighboring Muslim states that have had diplomatic relations with Israel for many years, do not seem to mind Israel being a threat to Iran. Especially the king of Jordan – many citizens of which are Palestinians – must know that without the support and implied protection by Israel he would be in exile by now, or worse.

The warming relationship between Israel and many Arab states has been known for years. Yet the decision by the Emirates to come out in the open is very important as it also carries the promise of normal relationships with other Gulf states in the future. It is good news for Prime Minister Netanyahu at a time that his position is being seriously challenged within Israel and it is also good news for President Trump who brokered the deal and who needs whatever help he can get before the US elections later this year.

It is bad news for the right-wingers in Israel, including Naftali Bennett, the staunch supporter of the settlers who of late has come to be regarded as a possible alternative to Netanyahu. Of course, it 9s a very bad deal for the Palestinian Authority which has now been formally declared an orphan by its Muslim brethren.

All in all, however, there is very good reason to cheer the deal with the Emirates and to hope for better things to come in the midst of a lot of doom and gloom caused by the corona pandemic and its consequences.

Jerusalem 16.8.20                                                                                                               Dow Marmur

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