The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory.
- Isaiah 62:2
When the Palestinian Authority saw Arab nations publicly warming up to Israel late last year, President Mahmoud Abbas called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League of States (ALS). The 22 ALS members had agreed not to normalize relations with Israel until the 70-year-old Palestinian cause was resolved.
Six nations formed the ALS in 1945 to buttress Arab prosperity and security as much as to deny Israel the same. The group has opposed Israel in every arena and even created an economic blockade to keep the Israeli people from getting what they needed.
Still, Israel prospered while many ALS member states floundered. Most countries either stopped enforcing the blockade or pulled out altogether.
And then the Israeli national anthem blared at a sporting event in Oman, a shocking display that Abbas saw as the crumbling of the Arab pact against Israel.
Last week, that pact disintegrated completely – with Palestinian Authority (PA) participation.
In a landmark development, Israel joined Egypt and Jordan (both ALS founding members) along with Cypress, Italy and the PA to create the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum. Egypt’s Petroleum Ministry said the alliance aims to “create a regional gas market that serves the interests of its members by ensuring supply and demand, optimizing resource development, rationalizing the cost of infrastructure, offering competitive prices and improving trade relations, among other goals.”
Security Against Iran
Warming Arab-Israel relations have been building for years, especially since the U.S. minted the Iran nuclear deal from which President Donald Trump withdrew last year. When it was signed in 2015, a quiet chorus of Arab voices expressed concern over Iran’s Middle East ambitions.
Days after the signing, CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reported, “Some of the nations within reaching distance of the Islamic Republic don’t buy that the nuclear deal will stop Iran from building an atomic bomb, and they worry that the country’s massive financial windfall could tip a delicate power balance.”
D’Agata quoted Saudi analyst Tariq Al-Shammari: “This agreement, from our point of view, represents an indirect threat to Gulf and Arab interests and peace.” Al-Shammari warned that Gulf Arab countries were working to keep Iran isolated politically and economically, and one method was to improve ties with Russia, an Iranian ally.
In the years since, the regional influence of both Iran and Russia has grown, and Iran has funded much of the current violence against Israel. The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum is an attempt to reduce the region’s and Europe’s reliance on Russian and Iranian oil and to increase security against Iran’s aggression and terrorism.
From Enemy to Technology Partner
For their own security, Arab nations are secretly – and to some extent publicly – accepting Israel as a legitimate nation and technology partner.
The Middle East Media Research Institute quoted the Sudanese Minister Mubarak Al-Mahdi last August when he called normalization of relations with Israel “not a big deal.” He added that Arabs have “peddled in the Palestinian cause ad nauseam” and “Palestinians themselves have normalized their relations with Israel.”
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said last week, “Israel exporting natural gas to the Arab world and also to Europe, this is something that sounded like a dream or a fantasy just 10 or 15 years ago.” He added, “We are talking about the most significant-ever economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel since the peace agreement was signed.”
In an opinion article in Haaretz, journalist Ora Coren noted, “The forum’s terms will offer Israel some protection from unilateral moves by member states that hurt its energy interests, such as Egypt’s 2012 decision to end a contract to supply Israel with natural gas. That protection is important to Israel as its gas exports to Jordan and the PA are not politically popular in the Jordanian and Palestinian streets.”
Please pray with us that normalization of Arab relations with Israel will continue and bring peace to the region. Also pray for:
- An end to Iran-backed terrorism both in the Middle East and worldwide
- Protection of Jewish people, especially young people in the Israeli military, as Iran’s proxies target them with terrorism