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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Why the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ is a Scam

In other words, to speak in English in Washington to make the Americans happy is one thing; to do things in practice is something else entirely.

Arab Peace

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There’s something very strange about this alleged new Arab League peace initiative and I find no serious addressing of these issues in the media coverage. A step toward efforts by Arab states to move toward proposing a possible peace with Israel is a good thing. Especially touted is an idea, mentioned by Qatar’s representative at the Washington meeting, to accept an agreement that small border modifications could be made to the pre-1967 lines.

Here’s how the Associated Press reported on this, with the headline, “Arab League sweetens Israel-Palestinian peace plan“:

The Arab League’s decision to sweeten its decade-old proposal offering comprehensive peace with Israel has placed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bind and swiftly exposed fissures in his new government.

In other words, you’d have to be a fool or a knave to reject this deal and the issue has divided Israel’s government. Yet chief negotiator Tzipi Livni was right to have reacted positively to the proposal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be right to ultimately reject it.

After all, there are a lot of unaddressed points in the coverage that make me strongly suspect that this is a public relations’ stunt to convince America and Western opinion that the Arab states want peace with Israel when not all of them do so.

And that’s one of the key questions. At the meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry there were representatives of the Arab League, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority.

But Arab League bureaucrats can’t agree on anything. Only a vote of the Arab League’s almost two dozen members can establish an official position. So this was not an Arab League plan at all. To represent it as an official Arab position is, then, untrue.

Indeed, we already know that the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) opposes this formula. At any rate, the United States cannot even get the P.A. to negotiate with Israel and yet fantasies of comprehensive peace are spread around by it. The mass media is cooperating in this theme, seeking to make Kerry look good at least.

Then there is the list of countries involved. I have no difficulty in believing that the governments of Bahrain, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are ready for a deal. Jordan has already made peace; Saudi Arabia proposed a reasonable offer a decade ago a decade ago (before it was sharply revised by hardliners before becoming an official Arab League position), and Bahrain’s regime is desperately afraid of Iran and has become a semi-satellite of the Saudis.

But what about the other three countries? Are we to believe that the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, the Hizballah-dominated regime in Lebanon, and the quirky but pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood regime in Qatar have suddenly reversed everything that they have been saying in order to seek a compromise peace with Israel? Highly doubtful to say the least.

In other words, the reportage ignored the interesting detail about the three most radical regimes (Qatar’s regional policy is radical; not its domestic policies) suddenly making a concession to Israel that had been previously unthinkable? It’s sort of like taking for granted, say, Joseph Stalin’s supposed embrace of capitalism or France’s rulers proclaiming that American culture is far superior to their own.

And let’s also remember the radical forces not present. The Syrian rebels will be holding the Arab League seat are dominated by Islamists. Hamas itself, which governs the Gaza Strip, will refuse to abide by any such agreement. Remember that this group represents at least one-third of Palestinians and perhaps a plurality over Fatah, which governs the P.A. Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated leadership have even written into the country’s new constitution that it can never make peace with Israel!.

Finally, there is a curious lack of mention over the demand, enshrined in the previous “Arab Peace Initiative” about what is called the “right of return.” Namely, to satisfy P.A. demands Israel would have to accept the immigration of hundreds of thousands of passionately anti-Israel Palestinians who had lived in the country 60 years ago (or their descendants) and who have been fighting all that time to wipe Israel off the map.

Is the “right of return” as a condition for making peace still in the small print? I don’t see that anyone else has asked that rather important question. Presumably it is still there. Consequently, what is in fact a suicidal offer to Israel is made, by selective reporting, to make it sound like an attractive offer. But if the demand for a massive immigration of hostile Palestinians is indeed dropped that in fact is the real news. Of course, the P.A. would passionately denounce such a step and since it has said nothing on the point one might assume that this demand still stands.

Then there are the citizens of these Arab countries—stirred up by Islamists and radical nationalists–who would seek to overthrow them if they believed their rulers were going to make peace with Israel. And there has been no hint from these regimes before and no statements now back home in Arabic to indicate any dramatic change of heart.

This supposed new plan, then, is a bluff. None of the above points have been explained in the Western media. Suddenly, we are to believe, for example, that the Muslim Brotherhood has turned dovish! (Well, of course, because the U.S. establishment has been arguing they were already dovish).

That doesn’t mean it is a bad thing as a sign of the times. I believe that the Arab states of the Persian Gulf would like to see the Arab-Israeli conflict decline and even end. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates no longer profit from this battle. They are frightened of Iran and revolutionary Islamists, and the Shia Muslim challenge in general. Such governments view Israel as a positive strategic factor given these real and big threats. You might add Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan to the list of moderates. Iraq doesn’t care anymore, while the Kurds in Iraq and Syria are almost pro-Israel.

And if these countries feel that saying or pretending to agree that peace with Israel is a good thing for their image in the West that is positive also. (Unfortunately, though, they know how easily they can get away with double talk).

But if you factor in the Islamist-ruled places—Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Tunisia, and soon Syria—into the equation the picture looks different. And if you add public opinion and the efforts of revolutionary Islamists who would denounce any such deal as treason things look totally different.

If even Saudi Arabia were to make peace with Israel what would happen internally? There would be riots, revolts, new manifestations of the currents represented by Osama bin Ladin, an escalated subversion from Iran. Of course, the monarchy knows this very well.

On top of that, remember that these governments know that they cannot depend on the United States to get them out of a jam in the face of their rivals and enemies. Indeed, many of them believe—with real reasons–that the Obama Administration is helping their enemies.

In other words, to speak in English in Washington to make the Americans happy is one thing; to do things in practice is something else entirely. This supposed initiative, then, will not go anywhere.

It is, however, interesting to compare this development with the total refusal of Arab states to make such a gesture when Obama asked them to do so back in 2009. Is the change due to the relative moderates’ greater fear of Islamist overthrow? Of Iran getting nuclear weapons? A response to Obama’s reelection? Of the radical, pro-Islamist forces trying to lull America and the West into an even deeper sleep so that they think more Sharia states will not make for more radical regimes?

One can almost hear the radicals’ reasoning: We have to keep the Americans at bay until we consolidate power at home and we have to keep the Americans handing over billions of dollars to finance the fundamental transformations we intend to make.

What it does show once again, however, is that the strategic picture in the region has changed dramatically. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a minor issue compared to the Islamist threat at home and from neighbors, the Iranian threat abroad, and the Shia challenge to these predominantly Sunni Muslim, conservative or nationalist, monarchical or dictatorial regimes.

Here is the paradox of the situation. The very threats that make some governments wish the conflict would go away are the same threats that stop them from actually doing something about it.

Originally published at Rubin Reports, under the title, “Why the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ is Both a Good Thing and a Scam.”

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


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8 Responses to “Why the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ is a Scam”

  1. It's not hundreds of thousands – it's millions. The Arabs demand any Arab that wants to come to be made Israeli citizens.

    Between 4 and 7 million people claim that they have a "right of return" to a place that they have never seen let alone been. This is out of maybe if 300 real refugees.

  2. It's not hundreds of thousands – it's millions. The Arabs demand any Arab that wants to come to be made Israeli citizens.

    Between 4 and 7 million people claim that they have a "right of return" to a place that they have never seen let alone been. This is out of maybe if 300 real refugees.

  3. It's not hundreds of thousands – it's millions. The Arabs demand any Arab that wants to come to be made Israeli citizens.

    Between 4 and 7 million people claim that they have a "right of return" to a place that they have never seen let alone been. This is out of maybe if 300 real refugees.

  4. Les Le Gear says:

    Don't trust arabs-ever. They LIE. It's part of their "culture".

  5. any other american president would not be promoting this latest ridiculous arab Big Lie. vacant soul. he owes them.

  6. Ray Hanania says:

    Glad to see there is an extremist equivalent of Hamas on the Jewish side. So sad. I hear the extremists on both sides saying "Don't trust… fill in the blanks". That's just want the fanatics want. Don't true, don't make peace, don't make concession and one day the extremists will wipe the others off the map… but just as victims of Nazi Germany deserve to be compensated, the Palestinians who lived in Palestine before 1948 should be compensated, too. That's only fair… RAY HANANIA

  7. When did the US and Israel decide that God no longer mattered? Why are we interested in making these sinful deals? This is God’s land and we’re not allowed to give it away. Iran continues unwavering on it’s march in the development of nuclear weapons and Assad the dictator of Syria is still in power. Current intelligence seems uncertain of when Iran will get the bomb and Israel cannot afford to gamble with this. Assad of Syria looks like he may be willing to use weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against near by nations as well. If this situation does not drastically change soon for the better, I believe the war in Isaiah Chapter 17 will likely take place. Damascus Syria would be destroyed. The worlds economy would likely collapse as a result and could usher in a one world government movement. I wrote a small 6 page book that outlines what I believe the Bible states will take place soon as well as the potential trends I see at this time. I don’t accept donations and it’s free. It’s a short read. I encourage you to have a look: http://www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next.

  8. When did the US and Israel decide that God no longer mattered? Why are we interested in making these sinful deals? This is God’s land and we’re not allowed to give it away. Iran continues unwavering on it’s march in the development of nuclear weapons and Assad the dictator of Syria is still in power. Current intelligence seems uncertain of when Iran will get the bomb and Israel cannot afford to gamble with this. Assad of Syria looks like he may be willing to use weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against near by nations as well. If this situation does not drastically change soon for the better, I believe the war in Isaiah Chapter 17 will likely take place. Damascus Syria would be destroyed. The worlds economy would likely collapse as a result and could usher in a one world government movement. I wrote a small 6 page book that outlines what I believe the Bible states will take place soon as well as the potential trends I see at this time. I don’t accept donations and it’s free. It’s a short read. I encourage you to have a look: http://www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next.

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