BLOG 382 February 12, 2012
In the last blog, we observed the continued deterioration of the PLO under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. The West Bank’s capacities are so low that their negative response to President Trump’s announcement to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as the capital of Israel was meaningless. We have also observed that the response from the surrounding Arab countries amounted to nothing. All of which signals a significant change in the way Israel is viewed in the Middle East.
Another indication of this shift came from a Saudi academic who voiced support for Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. The head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies said that Arabs must recognize that Jerusalem is a religious symbol to Jews just as it is to Muslims. Abdulhameed Hakeen stressed that Israel and Saudi Arabia have a common enemy in a Nazi-like threat in Iran. He stated that the Arab mind must strip itself of the legacy of a culture of Jew-hatred and “denial of their historic right in the region.”
Earlier in the month a delegation from Bahrain made an unprecedented visit to Jerusalem as guest of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Next month a group of Israeli businessmen will visit the Gulf kingdom.
Perhaps, one of the most surprising revelations came in the February 4, edition of The New York Times in a story about the secret relationship between Israel and Egypt in controlling terrorists in the Sinai. Jihadists have been a source of terror in the desert region for some time, even bringing down a Russian passenger jet. However for more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have made more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, often attacking more than once a week.
All occurred with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Once enemies in a three year war, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war with a common enemy. Israel’s role was concealed inside Egypt for fear of a backlash. However, after the terrorists brought down the Russian jet, in late 2015, Israel began its wave of airstrikes for which they are now credited with killing a long list of militant leaders.
As well as a positive sign for peace in the region, these actions demonstrate that it is possible for cooperation to occur. They give us further insight into why Arab countries made a limited response to Trump’s actions.
The new reality is that the common enemy is not the Jews.