THE slow but steady wave of normalisation between Arab states and Israel persists, with Morocco becoming the fourth country to develop relations with the Jewish state in recent months.
On Thursday, the development was announced by outgoing US President Donald Trump via Twitter, who made cobbling together a ‘coalition of the willing’ of Arabs and Israel a core plank of his foreign policy.
It was dubbed a “massive breakthrough” by Mr. Trump, while Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu chimed in by naming the scheme “another great light for peace.” Rabat has earned American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara in exchange for maintaining relations with Tel Aviv.
Morocco is an outlier when it comes to Arab affairs, but it is hard to be swayed by the American and Israeli exuberance about the new agreement. Arab governments, however, know well that the path to Washington goes through Tel Aviv, which explains their eagerness to dismiss and accept Israel with their Palestinian ‘brothers’ and Arab consensus on the Palestinian issue.
In comparison, in Tel Aviv, the UAE and then Bahrain, which were the first Arab states to accept Israel in decades, have encountered a kindred spirit that also aims to contain Iran.
More Arab and Muslim states are likely to suit, paying lip service to Palestine’s legitimate cause when booking the next flight to Tel Aviv. Yet Saudi Arabia is the elephant in the building. In secret Saudi-Israeli talks, there was fervent media speculation; one article also said Mr. Netanyahu went to northern Saudi Arabia for discreet parliaments with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
This has reportedly been refuted by the Saudis as it is a delicate subject, with the kingdom housing the holiest cities in Islam. Indeed, at a recent summit in Bahrain, senior Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal was strongly critical of Israel, with the Israeli foreign minister attending remotely.
This indicates that there is opposition even within Saudi Arabia to completely accept Israel, without an equal solution to the Palestinian issue.