In an op-ed published in The Hill on Friday, Joshua S. Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project, wrote that “Israel’s standing in the world appears to be at a high point,” as a result of “a string of extraordinary diplomatic breakthroughs.”
Block referenced a series of recent groundbreaking events between Israel and the Muslim world, but also hailed Israel’s diplomatic achievements India, China, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
“Benjamin Netanyahu was the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Liberia,” Block explained. On Sunday, Idris Déby became the first president of Chad, a Muslim-majority nation in Central Africa, to visit Israel and pledged a new era of relations, 46 years after ties were severed.
What Block called “Israel’s charm offensive” has also extended to Eastern Europe. On Tuesday, the Czech Republic opened a cultural centre in Jerusalem, which President Milos Zeman hailed as another step towards relocating his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Block further noted that “the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia” have all been to Israel on official visits and that “Kosovo has lobbied Israel to recognize it as a sovereign state.”
At the same time, Block described the diplomatic breakthroughs Israel has achieved in Latin America. “Netanyahu also became the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Latin America when he visited Argentina, Colombia and Mexico in September 2017,” Block said. The prime minister’s office confirmed that Netanyahu had plans to visit Latin America again, including Guatemala, a country that moved its embassy to Jerusalem two days after the United States relocated its mission in May.
Moving on to the Middle East, Block observed, “Iran’s hegemonic venture has ratcheted up the stakes in ways that produced once-in-a-generation opportunities” and made “rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf a real possibility.” He cited as examples Oman’s plea to the Arab world to recognize Israel as a sovereign state, as well as recent diplomatic breakthroughs with the United Arab Emirates. In addition, Netanyahu is expected to visit Bahrain “soon,” his office said.
Block concluded that, “The odds are in Israel’s favor of continuing to win over former adversaries. With shifting Arab alliances, many in the Muslim world are warming to normalization with Israel.” He also charged that the Palestinian leadership’s boycott of peace efforts led by the U.S. with the support of Arab states has left the Palestinians increasingly isolated.
On Iran, Block said, “the old rallying cries vilifying Israel as a ‘cancerous tumor’ that ‘must vanish from the pages of history’ are starting to lose their appeal,” and instead, ordinary Iranians are taking to the streets to protest the regime’s “foreign adventurism” and “terrorism.”
“Israel still has many battles to fight,” Block acknowledged. However, “the Jewish state has forged unprecedented relationships with countries that once were off limits.” Instead, Block said, “it is Israel’s adversaries who risk isolation.”
[Photos: Facebook ]