|Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir|
Saudi Foreign Minister: Arab-Israeli Conflict will be Resolved
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir spoke at the 53rd Munich Security Conference today about the option of achieving regional cooperation in order to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I believe that 2017 will be a year when a number of challenges in the Middle East will be resolved,” he said, adding that Saudi Araba is ready to do what is necessary in order to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Al-Jubeir also sounded optimistic about the Trump administration, saying that the US president and Riyadh both want to destroy ISIS and stop Iran from gaining too much power. “Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world,” al-Jubeir said. “It’s determined to upend the order in the Middle East.”
Shortly before al-Jubeir spoke, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the Arab world to help put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The Palestinians do not have a capacity to sign a final status agreement with Israel,” he said. “It is possible only as a part of [an] all regional solution. We must sign simultaneously a regional solution with the Arab world and [the] Palestinians.”
Saudi Arabia, Israel Present United Front Against Iran
- John Irish and Andrea Shalal
Saudi Arabia and Israel both called for a new push against Iran, signaling a growing alignment in their interests. Their ministers demanded at the Munich Security Conference that Tehran be punished for propping up the Syrian government, developing ballistic missiles, and funding separatists in Yemen.
Turkey also joined the de facto united front against Tehran, as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized an Iranian "sectarian policy" aimed at undermining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. He added, "It's good that we are now normalizing our relations with Israel."
Regional Cooperation with Israel Is Growing - Tamara Zieve
After visits to Morocco and Egypt, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, stressed the importance of fostering ties between Israel and moderate countries in the region. The Conference of Presidents works to foster closer relations between Israel and countries in Asia, Africa and the Arab world, largely behind the scenes. Hoenlein said there are many other "surprising" countries which have privately expressed interest in increasing cooperation with Israel.
- True peace requires addressing the deep sources of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Those lay with the Arab and Muslim reaction to the return of the Jewish people to powerful sovereignty in their ancient homeland. As far as Muslim theology and Arab practice were concerned, the Jews were non-believers, only to be tolerated, never as equals. They should have never been allowed to undermine Muslim rule over the lands which the Jews claimed as their homeland but the Arabs viewed as exclusively theirs since conquering them in the seventh century.
- The return of the Jewish people to restored sovereignty in their ancient homeland required Arabs and Muslims to accept that a people, whom they have for centuries treated as inferiors, worthy of contempt, were now claiming equality and exercising power in their midst. This unnatural historical development, in Arab eyes, led Arab governments to take revenge and forcefully expel hundreds of thousands of Jews living in their midst, often in communities predating the birth of Islam, just after the establishment of the State of Israel.
- It is also the reason why Arab states kept the Arabs who were displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and their millions of descendants as perpetual "refugees" - to deprive the Jewish state of legitimacy and peace.
- It is the reason that even after losing repeated military wars against the State of Israel, Arab countries have continued their diplomatic and economic war against it to this day.
- This attitude towards the Jewish state is an Arab - and Muslim - issue, and not only a Palestinian one. The Palestinians are the thin end of the wedge by which the Arab and Muslim world wages its war against a sovereign Jewish people.
- If the word "peace" is ever to truly describe the situation between Israel and its neighbors, it requires the Arab and Muslim world to accept the Jews as their equals and as an indigenous people who have come home.
Einat Wilf is a former member of the Knesset. Adi Schwartz is a researcher and writer in Tel Aviv.