By Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe—
RIGHT AFTER news broke of the peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel came reports that a similar deal with two other Gulf states, Oman and Bahrain, might be in the works. Israel’s intelligence minister told an interviewer he expects diplomatic ties to be established with Sudan before the year is out. There was even talk of forthcoming deals with Morocco, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
For the first time ever, a Muslim state on the Arabian Gulf has embraced peace with Israel. But what is most noteworthy is what was not required to make it happen.
Conventional wisdom long held that no Arab government would normalize relations with Jerusalem without significant Israeli concessions — especially the surrender of territory (“land for peace”) and recognition of Palestinian sovereignty (“two-state solution”). Without those capitulations, Middle East experts routinely asserted, Israel would remain a pariah in the region.
The experts were wrong.
To win UAE recognition, Israel agreed to no such conditions: no withdrawal from the West Bank, no deal with the Palestinians, no division of Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed merely to “suspend” his plans to annex part of the West Bank. Annexation was looking increasingly doubtful in any case, so Israel in effect traded a diplomatic headache for a diplomatic triumph.
The deal with Abu Dhabi, declared Netanyahu on Sunday, is based not on “land for peace,” but on the more durable foundation of “peace through strength.” Israel’s economic, military, and technological prowess makes it a force to contend with, and in deploying that force unswervingly to impede Iran’s aggression, it has made itself an invaluable partner to the Gulf’s Sunni leaders.
“Strength attracts and weakness repels,” Netanyahu said. “And with strength, one makes peace.”
Coincidentally, the UAE-Israel peace agreement was announced exactly 15 years after the one of the greatest blunders in Israeli history — Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. That experience was a textbook example of the folly that results from expecting peace to result from weakness. Continue Reading…