Israel’s diplomatic efforts have lead to “a revolution in our relations with important Arab states,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a college commencement speech Wednesday.
Speaking to the National Security College in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu told students that Arab states have begun to realize that their real enemy isn’t Israel, but rather the growing radicalism preached by ISIS and other terrorist organizations. He also said that Arab world’s growing acceptance of Israel could help lead to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
We have always said that the moment we solve or make progress or have a breakthrough in peaceful relations with the Palestinians, we’ll be able to achieve peaceful relations with the entire Arab world. There’s no doubt this is always true — but more and more, I think this process could also run in the opposite direction: The normalization of advancing relations with the Arab world could help to advance peace — a more sober, stable and better-backed peace — between us and the Palestinians.
Netanyahu specifically praised his country’s relationship with Egypt and Jordan. Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry met with Netanyahu on Sunday in Jerusalem—the first visit by a high-level Egyptian official in nine years—to promote a regional peace conference in Cairo. Ties between Israel and Egypt have greatly improved in the past few years. IDF deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said at a news conference in April that the two countries have an “unprecedented level of cooperation” concerning the sharing of intelligence on terrorist groups like Hamas and ISIS’s Sinai affiliate. Israel has allowed the Egyptian army to technically break the 1979 peace treaty by operating in the eastern and northern parts of Sinai against ISIS.
Benjamin Netanyahu has chalked up a number of diplomatic achievements over the past month. Israel reached a reconciliation agreement with Turkey at the end of June, ending the two countries’ six-year impasse. Netanyahu also embarked on a diplomatic tour of four African countries, whose leaders hailed the “the opening of a new era in relations between Israel and the countries of Africa” and heaped praise upon Israel as a model for proper economic, agricultural, and security practices. Netanyahu also reportedly held a secret meeting with the president of Somalia, the first-ever high-level contact between the two countries.
[Photo: Miriam Alster / Flash90]