‘Threshold of New Era’: Could Israel-Arab Peace Spread to More Countries?

Could PM Netanyahu and US President Trump reach more peace deals with Arab countries? Photo courtesy of Israeli GPO

Israel has achieved full diplomatic relations with two Arab nations in less than a month, and there are already hints that still more countries could join the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in expanding ties with Israel. A report by The Times of Israel on Sunday listed Oman and Morocco as potential partners with Israel, with the report further noting analysis from the Israeli Intelligence Ministry earlier in September that had identified Oman as a candidate for expanded ties. Now it’s becoming clear such analysis is not just based on hopes and wishes.

The Sultanate of Oman “welcomed” the Israel-Bahrain peace deal in an official statement by the Arab government on Sunday, which was published by the official Oman News Agency. While the comments included calling for the traditional Arab view of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, they also expressed the hope that the unilateral Arab deals with Israel would lead to such a result. 

“The Sultanate hopes that this new strategic approach espoused by some Arab countries will be a practical step towards establishing peace based on the termination of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the setting up of an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said the official Oman statement. 

In addition to the newsworthy endorsement of the Bahrain deal, the leader of Oman also spoke by phone with United States President Donald Trump—who has been instrumental in mediating the UAE and Bahrain deals with Israel—just two days before the Bahrain agreement was announced.

According to the Oman News Agency, on September 9, Omani Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik and Trump “exchanged views about ongoing developments in the region.” The Omani leader also “reaffirmed the Sultanate’s keenness on enhancing relations with the United States and upgrading them towards wider horizons.” Expanding relations with the US is notable given that the Americans have previously used benefits to encourage peace deals, such as the financial support to Egypt as part of their accord with Israel.

Meanwhile, Trump’s peace push may get another nudge forward with expectations of direct flights between Israel and Morocco, per The Jerusalem Post, citing Israel’s Channel 12 news. However, Israel Hayom reported a Moroccan diplomatic source slammed the flight report as untrue.

Regardless, the progress in Israeli-Arab peace is historic—and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows it.

“We are at the threshold of a new era,” said Netanyahu of the two new peace deals in comments released by his office on Sunday.

“…This will be a warm peace, economic peace in addition to the diplomatic peace, also peace between peoples. There will be brisk traffic in direct air links between the countries. The great excitement that exists in the country is also reflected in the very great excitement in Bahrain and the UAE among the public at large. There truly is a great change here.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, September 13, 2020)

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