We’ve been here before: ‘Historic’ normalizations with Arab states that came and went

For the record, welcome as the agreements with the UAE and Bahrain may be (and I have already registered my reservations), they are not, as advertised, the first such pacts with Arab nations since Egypt and Jordan. Israel had full diplomatic relations or mutual representative offices with at least five other members of the Arab League. Some of them, unlike our two new partners, had previously declared war on Israel or even sent troops to fight against it. In all cases, the relations were established following the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

And in all cases, the relations were severed by the Arab side following deteriorations of that process. Some have kept up informal or clandestine relations, as Israel already has long had with its two newly official partners.

To wit (very briefly, listing only formal and public relations):

Morocco: Interests sections opened in both countries 1995, closed by Morocco 2000 in response to the Second Intifada.

Tunisia: Ditto.

Mauretania: Full embassies opened 1999, closed 2010.

Oman: Economic offices opened 1996, closed by Oman 2000.

Qatar: Israeli economic office established 1996; expelled 2009 after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Qatar is now subsidising the Hamas regime to guarantee a ceasefire with Israel.

Not to mention non-Arab Muslim states such as (once upon a time) Iran and (still, just barely) Turkey. Or the yet-unfulfilled commitments of Chad and (Arab) Sudan.

All of the above were rightly hailed, but none lasted. The difference between the above ephemeral relations on one hand, and the lasting ones with Egypt and Jordan on the other, is obvious and simple: the latter two had genuine conflicts with Israel that were resolved. That would apply to a lasting accommodation with the Palestinians.

Here’s hoping that today’s accords fare better than the ones that came and went; that they do lead to the essential accommodation with the Palestinians, and do not collapse because of its absence. Given the US and Israeli leaders’ motivations that I outlined in my previous post, I’m not too optimistic about that, but hope springs eternal.

About the Author
Gideon Remez, formerly head of foreign news at Voice of Israel Radio, is an associate fellow of the Truman Institute, Hebrew University. The views expressed here are his own and not the Institute's.
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