Photo Credit: Mikael Lindmark
Kuwait City, October 2004.

Well, it didn’t take very long for that rosy glow to fade out after U.S. President Donald Trump flew away from the region.

On behalf of the Palestinian Authority, Kuwait has called on its Arab and African neighbors to “work together and stand in the face of the nomination of Israel for membership in the UN Security Council (2019 – 2020),” according to the official KUNA state news agency.

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The statement was made by Mohammad Nahi Al-Alati, the advisor at the Kuwaiti permanent mission at the Arab League. It followed what the news agency called an “extraordinary session” of the Council of the Arab League dedicated to a discussion of the Palestinian Authority’s concern over Israel’s “mounting infiltration” in Africa.

“The meeting was held upon a request by the State of Palestine, with support from the Arab States including Kuwait,” Al-Alati told KUNA. He added that “mechanisms were being worked out for joint Arab-African action against the Israeli schemes to occupy a seat in the UNSC, in elections due in 2018.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been very active over the past several months with travels to African nations. Likewise, heads of state from Africa have reciprocated with visits to the Jewish State as well. In fact, Netanyahu said the goal of his whirlwind trip to Liberia this month was to “dissolve this giant bloc of 54 African countries that is the basis of the automatic majority against Israel in the UN and international bodies.

While in Liberia, Netanyahu delivered a speech at the Economic Community of West African States in (ECOWAS) Africa-Israel Summit in Monrovia, telling his audience, “I believe in Africa. I believe in Africa, I believe in its potential – present and future.” Netanyahu was the first head of state of a non-African nation to be invited to the ECOWAS summit.

One might think that Arab Gulf states had never offered to improve ties with Israel at all, given this behavior. And yet, just last month, a report in The Wall Street Journal contended the Gulf nations indeed made such an offer as part of an initiative to restart Israeli efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

“We no longer see Israel as an enemy, but a potential opportunity,” one senior Arab official involved in the talks allegedly told the WSJ.

According to the report, Al-Alati also confirmed the participants discussed “Israel’s schemes in Africa” and the possible consequences, in the event that Israel succeeds in her quest to win a seat at the Security Council.

In a recent opinion piece for The Jewish Press, Isi Leibler analyzes the actual chances for a reasonable peace in the Middle East between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

Liebler points out that the visit by President Trump opened up new vistas for the first time between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish State, and suggested that Israel seize the moment to take advantage of the moderate atmosphere and demonstrate its willingness to extend a hand in peace as well. He also commented, however, that it is time to see whether Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas can and will make concessions as well and if not, then it is time to analyze the reaction of all concerned.

So far, we see Abbas seems to be running true to form: instead of supporting the application of Israel in the United Nations – or at least remaining quiet and neutral – Abbas has raced to the Arab League to demand Arab-African unity to shut Israel out, not only from the UN Security Council, but from any diplomatic activity at all in Africa.

Aside from the brazen chutzpah of a no-longer-elected leader of a territorial entity clamoring for Arab and African nations to do his bidding, one has to wonder since when the diplomatic relations between African nations and Israel became the purview of Palestinian Authority leader Abbas, who has yet to gain control over his own territory, let alone that of others. Without Israel’s quiet security apparatus to help him, he could not have stayed in power for five minutes these past five years, and everyone in the region knows it.

So because a maverick American president has arrived with the know-how to make profitable business deals for everyone in the region — for the Arab nations and for Israel – Abbas is worried his corner of the universe may not take center stage, for a change?

The question now is: Will the Arab League understand where their long-term profit lies?

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