Daily Briefing: ISRAEL ARAB RELATIONS: MOVING CLOSER TO NORMALIZATION? (September 8,2020)

Flag of the United Arab Emirates (Wikipedia)

Table of Contents:

Secret Ties Between U.A.E. and Israel Paved Way for Diplomatic Relations:  Dion Nissenbaum, WSJ, Aug. 14, 2020
Conrad Black: One Step Closer to Israeli Normalization: Conrad Black, National Post, Aug. 14, 2020
Israel’s History of Arab Realpolitik:  Dore Gold, Mosaic, Aug. 19, 2020
Justice in Israel is Not Blind:  Caroline Glick, JNS, Sept. 6, 2020

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Secret Ties Between U.A.E. and Israel Paved Way for Diplomatic Relations
Dion Nissenbaum
WSJ, Aug. 14, 2020

The diplomatic breakthrough between Israel and the United Arab Emirates caps more than a quarter-century of deepening—but largely secret—business and security ties between the two countries that signals a major shift in the geopolitics of the Middle East.

A major driver bringing the Israelis and Emiratis together has been their shared distrust of Iran, which they view as a destabilizing force in the region, and their concern about its growing military capabilities. That drove increasing intelligence cooperation between the two, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Business connections also grew. Even though the two nations didn’t maintain direct air or telecommunications links, deals got done. It became possible to hear Israeli businessmen quietly speaking Hebrew in certain Dubai hotels.

“This was more or less something that has developed, I would say, organically” and in “many, many areas,” said Anwar Gargash, Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs. This week, he said, the establishment of diplomatic relations transformed it into “something tangible.”

Thursday’s agreement now paves the way for other Arab and Muslim nations that have warming relations with Israel, including Bahrain, Oman and Morocco, to follow the Emirati lead. Trump administration officials said they are cautiously optimistic that they will see similar steps by the end of this year.

Like the U.A.E., other Arab nations have quietly developed budding business, security and intelligence ties with Israel. Israeli businessmen have meetings with Saudi counterparts in Riyadh restaurants. In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare visit to Oman. Morocco is looking at opening up commercial flights with Israel. And last year, the foreign ministers of Bahrain and Israel had their first public meeting in Washington.

Bahrain hailed the deal, but didn’t respond to request for comment about its own relations with Israel. U.S. officials said they expect Bahrain will be the next to follow the Emirati lead. A tentative outreach from Israel to the U.A.E in the 1990s planted the first seeds from which the relationship grew, according to people familiar with the talks. Israeli diplomats quietly met with Emirati intermediaries to talk about the U.A.E.’s efforts to buy new F-16 fighters from America.Then, as now, Israel was concerned about maintaining its military edge over its Middle East neighbors. After discussing the deal with Emiratis, Israel told the U.S. it wouldn’t object to the sale.

There have been ups and downs. Relations took a hit in 2009, when the U.A.E. denied a visa to Shahar Pe’er, one of Israel’s most celebrated tennis players, who was planning to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships.

She would have been the first professional Israeli athlete to compete in the U.A.E., but the initiative was derailed after organizers said they couldn’t let an Israeli compete weeks after an Israeli military campaign in the Palestinian-populated Gaza Strip. Venus Williams condemned the Emirati visa denial and Andy Roddick withdrew from the tournament in protest. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Conrad Black: One Step Closer to Israeli Normalization
Conrad Black
National Post, Aug. 14, 2020

The announcement on Thursday of the finalization of talks to normalize and tighten relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is an important step toward general Arab acceptance of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Often forgotten in the endless and bitter wars and arguments over Israel’s status is the fact that it was specifically set up by a unanimous vote of the founding members of the United Nations on the motion of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s ambassador, seconded by U.S. President Harry Truman’s ambassador, at a time when they already agreed on little else, that Israel was being established from the League of Nations mandate as a homeland for the Jews. This development in 1948 was effectively an acknowledgement by the international community that the unspeakable atrocities inflicted upon the Jewish people in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe required action by the whole world to give the ancient and talented Jewish people a national home where they could give refuge to their persecuted coreligionists. Vivid in the recollections and the consciences of all Western nations were the pathetic and horrifying travails of the persecuted Jews of Europe in the 1930s.

That had been far from the finest hour of the British Empire. The declaration by foreign secretary and former prime minister Arthur James Balfour in 1917 that after the British had expelled the Ottomans from what had been called in Roman times Palestine, a Jewish homeland would be created that would not compromise the rights of the Arab people already there was a desperate ploy in dark hours of the First World War, as Russia folded, for accelerated American and international Jewish support. The British did not then occupy any of Palestine and Turkey, despite having been reviled for a century as “the sick man of Europe” and “the abominable Porte,” was holding its own and had outlasted Russia in the greatest war in history. But in effect, the British sold the same real estate (which they did not own) to two different and antagonistic parties, and throughout the British occupation of Palestine under a League of Nations mandate, it did a poor job of conciliating the conflicting ambitions of the Jews and Arabs. (In my capacity as a member of the House of Lords in 2002, I felt it my duty to point out to my noble friends, who weren’t enthused to hear it, that given the British performance as overlords of the area it did not lie in the mouths of the British government or Parliament to disparage the efforts of the United States to resolve the proverbially intractable problems of the Middle East.)

Were it not for the strategic importance of the immense oil reserves discovered in Arabia and nearby between the world wars, the view of the world powers toward the Middle East would have been akin to what Otto von Bismarck thought of the Balkans, which he famously asserted were not “worth the bones of one Pomeranian grenadier” (he further declared that the great powers “must not become involved in the quarrels of these sheep stealers”). But the unimaginably barbarous destruction of half of the entire Jewish population of the world in Nazi camps (and although it has been under-recognized, an approximately equal number of non-Jewish victims) made the survival, concentration, legitimization and effective renascence of the Jews an overwhelming practical and moral imperative. The Jewish population of what is now Israel, though it has been present there for nearly 6,000 years, was at one time reduced to only about 30,000 people. The origins of the enduring antagonism between Jews and Arabs, Christian Arabs as much as Muslims, are buried in the mists of antiquity, but it seems that apart from increased general prosperity, the only method of de-escalating that antipathy is the approach of a common threat. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Israel’s History of Arab Realpolitik
Dore Gold
Mosaic, Aug. 19, 2020

While last week’s news of normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates represents a tremendous breakthrough, it is no secret that the two countries have been in contact for many years. Those contacts predate the much-commented-upon cooperation between Israel and the Gulf states (the UAE included) in the past decade and are, in fact, not highly unusual in the Middle East. By seeing the new developments in light of their historical precedents, we can better appreciate their significance.

I recall, years ago, sitting at Tel Aviv University Law School and listening to a guest lecture by Ariel Sharon in which he disclosed Israeli security cooperation with neighboring Arab states during the early 1960s. At the time, Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt had undertaken a major military intervention into Yemen’s civil war, and Israel found itself in a coalition of states, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, opposed to Egyptian expansionism in the Arabian Peninsula.

The United Kingdom, the traditional protector of Middle Eastern borders, was no longer in a position to step in. In the 1920s British biplanes had defended the Hashemite monarchies of Transjordan and Iraq from invasion by fanatical Wahhabi warriors. But those days were long gone, and the USSR had since the 1950s been asserting itself as the ultimate power broker in the region. Indeed, the Egyptian air force was using Soviet aircraft to bomb Saudi border towns.

Ultimately, what brought the Egyptian military effort to a crashing halt was Israeli action elsewhere in the Middle East: the June 1967 Six-Day War. Nasser began withdrawing troops from Yemen in August to make up for his losses in the war with Israel, and then signaled his commitment to ending Egypt’s role in the conflict. For the Saudis it was an important lesson: the Jewish state alone had both the might and the will to fight against what was at the time one of the foremost military powers in the Middle East.

The king of Jordan also learned something about his Israeli neighbor in this period. When the Hashemite kingdom faced an armed invasion from Syrian tanks in 1970, Israel understood that it was in its interest to safeguard its neighbor’s territorial integrity. As far as I am concerned that is still in Israel’s interest today, when Iran seeks to destabilize Jordan and undermine its sovereignty. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK– Ed.]
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Justice in Israel is Not Blind
Caroline Glick
JNS, Sept. 6, 2020

Over the past several weeks, Israelis have been riveted by a new crime drama called “Meniac” or “Rat,” whose central character is an investigator in Police Investigations Division of the Justice Ministry, charged with investigating crooked cops. The plot surrounds the main character’s shattering discovery of deeply rooted corruption at all levels of the police and state prosecution.

If the show had aired 15 years ago, it probably would have flopped. But over the past several years, public faith in the legal system has plummeted. Last November Globes newspaper published a poll showing that 72 percent of Israelis believe police and state prosecutors engage in selective law enforcement. In this climate, the success of “Meniac” was all but assured.

Almost every day, events occur that reinforce the public’s view that justice in Israel is not blind. Even worse, in Israel’s politicized justice system judges, prosecutors and police investigators have unchecked powers the likes of which no legal system in any other democracy ever possessed.

Consider the events of the past few weeks.

On Aug. 27, the Supreme Court issued two rulings. In the first, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and her deputy, Yehuda Melzer, order the destruction within three years of the community of Mitzpeh Kramim in the Benjamin District of Judea. The ruling is stunning because from the outset, Mitzpeh Kramim was established under the close supervision of the Justice Ministry. Residents did nothing without Justice Ministry approval.

All the same, Hayut and Meltzer ruled that the property rights of Mitzpe Kramim’s residents should be revoked because, they claimed, in one or two instances over the past 11 years, a government official read a map or a document in an unfair way, in Hayut and Melzer’s opinion.

Two weeks before the Mitzpe Kramim ruling, their colleagues, justices Meni Mazuz and George Kara, prohibited the Israel Defense Forces from carrying out a lawful military order to destroy the home of the terrorist who murdered IDF soldier Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal. Destroying the home would involve “great harm to a number of fundamental rights including harm to property rights and to human dignity,” they ruled. Their main claim was that they didn’t want to hurt the murderer’s family, which didn’t kill Ben-Yigal.

In other words, the Court ruled that the property rights of hundreds of Israelis who acted in good faith and broke no law are to be rejected because a clerk misread a map, and the property rights of family members of a man who murdered an IDF soldier are to be upheld and protected because they are innocent of his crime.In its second judgment on Aug. 27, the court rejected a petition from Likud asking for the publication of the Central Election Commission’s protocols from the recent elections due to wide-scale allegations of vote fraud. Since the CEC is chaired by a Supreme Court justice, the justices might have been expected to err on the side of transparency. But then, why would they do that?

As Likud MK Shlomo Karei told the Mida website after the ruling, the court wouldn’t even order the publication of election protocols in cases where the suspicion of fraud was overwhelming. As an example, Karei cited the case of 7,000 ballots ostensibly cast by Israeli Arab students. Israel prohibits absentee voting and it turns out that the students “cast” their votes while they were in Jordan. But as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, no one is allowed to question their ballots. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

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For Further Reference:

Dennis Ross: Good News from the Middle East:  Dennis Ross, Washington Post,Aug. 14, 2020 — We don’t hear many good news stories out of the Middle East, particularly recently, in the midst of the despair over Beirut, regional conflicts and the ravages of COVID-19. But on Thursday there was a hopeful development: U.S. President Donald Trump announced a historic peace agreement that will normalize relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

For Palestinians, Israel-U.A.E. Deal Swaps One Nightmare for Another Isabel Kershner and Adam Rasgon, NYTimes,Aug. 14, 2020 — When the unmarked United Arab Emirates plane touched down on the tarmac in Tel Aviv one night in May carrying 16 tons of unsolicited medical aid for the Palestinians, it was rejected by the Palestinian leadership, which said that nobody had coordinated with them about the shipment.

It’s No Accident Israel’s First Peace Agreement in Decades Is with the Emirates: Ed Husain, Mosaic, Aug. 19, 2020 — Why am I, a British Muslim, writing these words for an influential American Jewish magazine? I am convinced that our destinies are interwoven with ideas that, as of last week, gave birth to the new peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. 

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