Reported plan would allow direct communications and use of airspace if settlements are curtailed and Gaza restrictions are eased
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (R) speaks with Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, during the Arab Summit in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh on March 29, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)
A plan under discussion among Gulf state leaders would reportedly offer better ties with Israel if the Jewish state were to take substantive action to try to reach peace with the Palestinians.
Among the measures the states want to see are a settlement freeze in “certain areas” of the West Bank and an easing of the security blockade on the Gaza Strip, sources familiar with negotiations about the plan told The Wall Street Journal in a report Monday night. (Israel maintains the blockade to prevent Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Strip and seeks to destroy Israel, from importing weaponry.)
In return, Gulf States would lift some trade restrictions, open direct telecommunications links, and allow Israeli aircraft to overfly their countries, the report said.
Other incentives under consideration are the issuing of visas to Israeli sports teams and trade delegations for events in Arab states and opening the region for Israeli trade and business.
According to the report, the idea is “outlined in an unreleased discussion paper shared among several Gulf countries.”
While Arab officials doubt that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is in sight, they are prepared to reward Israel for at least taking steps toward that goal, the report noted.
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank in the next 10 days before heading on to Europe. On Monday, Trump met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan in Washington.
Gulf States are aiming to cooperate with Trump, who has stated his keen interest in reaching a peace agreement, the sources told the Journal. Two countries — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — have reportedly already told the US and Israel they are prepared to embrace the plan.
The report said that the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office would not comment on the offer.
The initiative comes against a backdrop of improving relations between Israel and Sunni Gulf states in the past few years, driven by shared concerns about Shiite-ruled Iran and the Islamic State terror group.
The only Arab countries with which Israel Israel currently enjoys diplomatic relations are Egypt and Jordan.
A senior Arab official taking part in the discussions was quoted as saying, “We no longer see Israel as an enemy, but a potential opportunity.”
US President Donald Trump meets with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, May 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB
“Much more is going on now than any time in the past,” Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Journal. “It’s almost a revolution in the Middle East.”
Steinitz, who last year made a secret visit to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi to discuss regional issues, said Israeli technology, including for surveillance, is being shared with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“Israel has developed cutting-edge technology that allows us to detect terrorist plots in advance,” he said. “This enables us to help moderate Arab governments protect themselves.”
Chagai Tzuriel, director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, said that a lot of progress is being made out of the public eye.
“There’s a gap between what’s on the table and what’s under the table,” he said, according to the report. “Everyone understands that when you look at the long run, the deeper relationships are going to be in the civilian area: energy, water, agriculture, medicine, transportation.”
Some Arab leaders are doubtful of Netanyahu’s commitment to the peace process, including in light of his demand, backed up by senior ministers, that the US move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Relocating the embassy, a campaign promise made by Trump, would be seen as a firm US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a position strongly opposed by the Arab world and in particular the Palestinians.
“We don’t mind a good relationship between Israel and the Arab world,” noted Husam Zomlot, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative in Washington. “[But] is this the entry to peace? Or is it the blocker?”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that the administration was weighing up the pros and cons of moving the embassy with regards to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Netanyahu responded by declaring that a relocation would have the benefit of “shattering” Palestinian fantasies that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.