With Morocco becoming the fourth Arab country in three months to normalize relations with Israel, the Netanyahu Doctrine of peace through strength and peace in exchange for peace continues to bear fruit.
Imagine if I had written in this space last year that tens of thousands of Israelis would be traveling for their winter vacations openly on direct flights to Dubai. That would have sounded unrealistic. Yet here we are, witnessing so much historic peace that the term “historic peace” is starting to get a little redundant.
How did this sea change occur?
Some 25 years ago, Netanyahu argued that peace with the greater Arab world would only be achieved by first strengthening Israel economically, militarily and diplomatically. Netanyahu’s leadership brought Israel to previously unimagined heights, laying the foundation for Arab states to orient themselves toward Israel.
As prime minister and finance minister, Netanyahu revolutionized Israel’s economy with free-market reforms that transformed the Jewish state into a global technological powerhouse. He brought Israel to its position as a world leader in cyber, developed Israel’s gas reserves and turned Israel into an energy exporter. He cultivated Israeli relations with dozens of countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, often being the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit those nations.
Over the years, Netanyahu also built relations with Arab states at times quietly and other times more openly. In one of many such examples, it was reported that Netanyahu held secret talks with senior officials from Morocco. Two years ago, he publicly visited Oman and met the Arab nation’s late ruler, Sultan Qaboos.
Gulf nations rightly viewed Israel as an indispensable ally after witnessing Netanyahu’s global leadership in resisting Iran’s aggression and its attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu stood at times alone on the world stage exposing Iran’s support for terrorism and its illicit nuclear program. We saw it with Netanyahu’s 2015 address before a joint session of the US Congress to warn about the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli premier’s decision to order the January 2018 raid on Iran’s secret nuclear archive that exposed the extent of Iran’s dangerous nuclear project.
It is safe to say that Iran would probably have obtained nuclear weapons by now were it not for Netanyahu’s courageous actions, which led to an unprecedented sanctions regime on the tyrants of Tehran.
Another force that fueled the Abraham Accords was President Trump’s reality-based approach toward Mideast peace and his intrepid leadership in the region. President Trump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to where it should be in Jerusalem; rightly recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; and affirmed Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The Trump administration removed the loaded “occupation” label from Israel’s ancient and historic Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. And President Trump’s Peace to Prosperity plan created a blueprint for real-world Mideast peace.
It is clear many more countries in the Arab world want to sign peace deals with the Jewish state. There is every reason to be hopeful that these alignments will continue in the months and years ahead as the current deals have already blossomed into warm peace.
Look at the outpourings of camaraderie on social media in Israel and so many Arab states. Jewish delegations are touring the Gulf while Arab missions are arriving here in Israel on an almost daily basis. Diplomatic deals are being signed. More direct flights are opening. Economic agreements are being forged at a fevered pitch.
While the news media tend to focus on the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco deals, the Sudan agreement is a massive turning point, too. We are talking about a country that in 1948 sent army companies to a war aimed at destroying Israel. More recently, Sudan was an important ally of Iran and a base from which Iranian weapons were smuggled to Gazan terrorist groups to murder Israelis. Normalization with Sudan isolates Iran even further and brings economic benefits to Israel and Sudan.
When the peace agreement with Morocco was announced on the first night of Hanukkah, Prime Minister Netanyahu captured the moment at a candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall. He stated: “On this Hanukkah, the light of peace has never shone brighter than today in the Middle East.” That light will only grow stronger.