After enduring misunderstandings from the Middle Eastern nations in particular, the State of Israel has finally started seeing a positive wave of normalizing relations with both the Middle Eastern and Muslim nations. According to analysts, even as the left wing of the Democratic Party continue to blast Israel – to the degree that the Squad opposed the sale of the Iron Dome defense system that protected women and children against mega-terror outfit Hamas’s rocket attacks, Jerusalem continues to become increasingly enmeshed with the half-dozen Arab states with which it has formal diplomatic ties. At the same time, a number of Middle Eastern and Muslim nations are already considering normalizing relations with Israel in the nearest future.
Recently, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a former chief of staff for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) signed a memorandum of agreement with Morocco that provides for expanded intelligence cooperation, joint exercises, defense industrial cooperation, and Israeli arms sales to the kingdom. Israel long has had unofficial ties to Morocco, which briefly became official in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Accords, but the MOU is the first of its kind between Israel and any Arab state.
One important point here is, although Morocco was not a signatory to the 2020 Abraham Accords, Israel’s ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two Arab nations that did sign those accords, likewise continue to expand.
Israeli investors, businessmen and tourists have been pouring into Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and UAE investors have begun to place bets on Israel’s high-tech sector. In March, the UAE created a US$10 billion fund for investments in Israel; a month later the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, announced plans to buy a US$1 billion stake in Israel’s Tamar gas field.
On the other hand, Bahrain reached an agreed framework for economic cooperation with Israel that would create a joint economic committee to spur the implementation of joint research and development projects, Bahraini investment in the Jewish state, and the reduction of trade barriers between the two countries.
Israeli military cooperation with Arab states once was limited to semi-clandestine activities. No longer is that entirely the case. This month the UAE, Bahrain, Israel and the US Fifth Fleet conducted a joint maritime exercise in the Red Sea that was specifically geared to countering Iran’s aggressive behavior. More such exercises are likely to follow, as the Gantz visit to Morocco has made abundantly clear.
Israel’s military relations with the two countries with which it has peace agreements – Egypt and Jordan – is less public but of longer standing. Jordanian fighter aircraft participated in the Blue Flag exercise, though neither Amman nor Jerusalem formally confirmed Jordan’s role.
Similarly, Jerusalem and Cairo both are loath to discuss Israel’s support for Egyptian operations against terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula. Nor do Israel and Saudi Arabia comment on the extent and nature of their military cooperation.
For sure, Israeli leaders are looking forward to seeing relations with all of the Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia as well as non-Arab Muslim nations such as Bangladesh. To Israel, normalizing relations with Bangladesh, the third-largest Muslim nation in the world would be of multiple advantages both for the Jewish State and the respective nation. It will also open the prospect of cooperation between Israel and the Arab and non-Arab Muslim nation in exchange key information on combating terrorism and religious extremism. At the same time, Israel can be one of the most dependable counterparts in offering high-tech equipment and technology as well as military hardware and medical items and medicines. For example, an Israeli company is going to start distribution of oral vaccine for COVID-19, which would be extremely convenient and reasonably cheaper. Israel’s oral vaccine for diabetic patients as well as a large number of pharmaceutical items for curing a number of serious diseases. In brief, normalizing relations with Israel will be definitely a matter of huge advantages for the Arab and non-Arab Muslim nations. Hopefully policymakers in the respective countries will pay due attention to it.