Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the funeral of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres on September 30, 2016 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)
By Charles Bybelezer for The Media Line, December 17, 2018 –
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is challenging one of the fundamental pillars of the two-and-a-half-decades-long peace process by proffering that the creation of ties with Arab-Islamic countries can not only precede but also advance the prospects of forging a long-elusive deal to end the conflict with the Palestinians.
This approach contravenes the widely held belief underpinning the 1993 Oslo Accords: namely, that peace with the Palestinians is a prerequisite for the recognition by Middle East nations of the Jewish state’s right to exist and full regional integration.
Speaking to foreign ambassadors in Jerusalem, Netanyahu essentially turned this conventional wisdom on its head, asserting that “a great change has been created here… Today, we are [proceeding on a path] without the Palestinians being involved and [therefore it] does not depend on their caprices. The Arab states are looking for links with the strong [and this] gives us diplomatic power.”
Indeed, relations between the Jewish state and Sunni Muslim Gulf countries appear to be undergoing a major transformation, as evidenced by Netanyahu’s recent trip to Oman and reports of a possible United States-brokered high-profile summit with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Notably, Bahrain this past weekend offered reserved support for Australia’s decision to recognize the western part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; this, despite the move having been vehemently condemned by the Palestinian Authority.
All of this, meanwhile, is taking place on the backdrop of the prospective roll-out of the White House’s much-hyped Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, the details of which have been kept as one of the Trump administration’s most closely guarded secrets.