What Saudi Arabia wants; what Israel can deliver

T. Belman. Everything Biden is telling the world about normalization is propaganda and untrue. The author starts his first paragraph with “There are rumors swirling around …” and the second paragraph with “Many believe that that…”.  So its all speculation on his part.

Our salvation lies in the Jordan Option.

Until the Palestinians prove that they can effectively govern themselves, Israel cannot agree to any Saudi demands to cede more land to the Palestinian Authority.

 By  Jason Shvili, ISRAEL HAYOM 31.7.23

There are rumors swirling around about a possible deal that would see Israel and Saudi Arabia normalize relations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long sought to expand the Abraham Accords to include the Saudis. Indeed, Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Israel would be a huge deal that could reshape the Middle East. But most experts are saying that such a deal would depend on Israel making numerous concessions to the Saudis in exchange for normalization.

Many believe that the Saudis will demand that Israel pledge never to annex all or part of Judea and Samaria until an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is reached. Other key demands may include a freeze on building and expanding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, measures to improve the economic situation of the Palestinians, and ceding land to the Palestinians for a future state. I believe that Israel can and should accommodate some of these demands, but certainly not all.

First of all, in exchange for normalization with the Saudis, Israel can take measures to improve the Palestinian economy so long as it does not endanger the security of the Jewish state and its citizens. I also think that Israel should be willing to publicly declare that it will allow the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. As I’ve said before, if there is to be an Israel in the future, there must also be a Palestine. Israel can’t simply annex all of Judea and Samaria with its millions of Palestinian inhabitants. Doing so would immediately reduce the country’s Jewish majority significantly, and its Jewish majority would be completely gone within a matter of years.

Annexing Area C alone, as some politicians have suggested, wouldn’t be practical either. The Palestinians need a viable, contiguous state so that they can have a sustainable economy and so now-stateless Palestinians will have a country of their own to live in. Otherwise, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will simply go on and on.

However, Israel must not agree to a timeframe for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Because for now, and for the foreseeable future, Israel cannot allow the establishment of a Palestinian state, as the Palestinians have shown that they cannot govern themselves effectively, even with the autonomy and territory they already have. Furthermore, they have not really given up the aim of destroying Israel. The Palestinians may pay lip service to the two-state solution, but right now, they don’t want to create a state of their own. They want to destroy ours.

The Israeli government must make it clear to the Saudis, not to mention the rest of the international community, that until the Palestinians meet certain conditions, Israel cannot allow them to have a country of their own. These conditions include ending the practice of encouraging terrorism and hatred against Jews. This means no more pay-for-slay, no more school curriculum encouraging children to be Jew-murdering terrorists, and no more media incitement.

Another condition is that the Palestinians must prove that they can govern themselves effectively, which means the ability to effectively control their territory and the ability to combat terrorism. The Palestinians must also dissolve their numerous militias so that there is only one national armed force, just like in other civilized countries. This means no more gun-toting Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, etc. roaming Palestinian streets. All political factions in Palestinian territory must commit to non-violence or be banned from participating in Palestinian politics. In addition, once there is a Palestinian state, it must be a demilitarized state. The Palestinians must also commit to entrenching democracy and the rule of law. Palestine cannot become just another Arab dictatorship like so many other countries in the region.

Until the Palestinians prove that they can effectively govern themselves, Israel cannot agree to any Saudi demands to cede more land to the Palestinian Authority. Israel must also avoid pledging not to expand Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The only concession on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that Israel can safely agree to is not to authorize what the media like to call “illegal settlement outposts” – Jewish communities set up without authorization from the Israeli government. Indeed, the Israeli government should be cracking down on these illegal communities anyway, not retroactively legalizing them and encouraging Israelis to break the law.<

But legally expanding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria must never cease until the Palestinians are ready for statehood. It is the inalienable right of the people of Israel to build in the Land of Israel. In fact, I would argue that continuing to build Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria encourages the Palestinians to get their act together sooner rather than later, because the longer they take to meet the required conditions for statehood, the less territory they will have for their future state as Israeli communities take up more land in Judea and Samaria.

There are also concessions that Israel should demand from Saudi Arabia before normalization between the two countries takes place. Firstly, Israel must demand that if the Saudis want a civilian nuclear program of their own, which they have expressed the desire for, they must commit to never developing nuclear weapons and accept monitoring of this commitment. In exchange, I would recommend that Israel offer the Saudis, not to mention other Arab countries that are already part of the Abraham Accords, a mutual defense treaty that would commit the involved countries to defend each other in the event of attack – the same commitment that members of NATO make.<

Secondly, the Saudis must commit to encouraging other Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel. Indeed, even if Israel and Saudi Arabia reach a deal to normalize relations, it doesn’t mean that every other Arab state will follow suit. It is unlikely, for example, that Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, or Algeria will normalize relations with Israel as they are beholden to Iran. But the Saudis should be able to persuade other Arab states like Kuwait, Tunisia, and Mauritania to normalize relations with the Jewish state. Because ultimately, the Arab-Israeli conflict will never truly end until Israel has full diplomatic and economic relations with every single Arab state.

July 31, 2023 | Comments »

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