The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt rejected on March 4 a clause in a statement by the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (APU), which called for a stop to normalization with Israel, laying bare a growing divide between Arab governments and individual parliamentarians in their approach to the Jewish State.
The speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, had urged the group to include in its final statement at the 29th Conference of the APU, which kicked off on March 2 in the Jordanian capital Amman, a clause that rejects normalization between Israel and the Arab world.
Al-Ghanim slammed rapprochement with Israel as a “political taboo” and emphasized that Arab states must stand united against “our enemy [Israel)” in support of the Palestinians.
His demands, however, were rejected by the speaker of the Saudi Shura Council, Abdullah Al-Sheikh, who noted that, “Calls for stopping normalization with Israel is the authority of politicians not the parliamentarians,” stressing that this recommendation be deleted from the statement. Al-Sheik received support from representatives of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, who all called on the APU not to include the clause in its final statement.
In recent months, several Arab states – including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman – have developed closer ties with the Jewish State.
As part of the International Judo Federation’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in October, Israel’s culture and sports minister, Miri Regev, paid a historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, where, in a moving ceremony, Israel’s national anthem – Hatikvah – was played for the first time after the Israeli team took gold. The minister also toured the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, where she signed the guest book in Hebrew.
Earlier in October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had embarked on a groundbreaking visit to Oman, where he met with Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said al Said. Oman later called on the Arab world to recognize Israel’s right to exist and invited Israeli Transport Minister, Yisrael Katz, to the upcoming World Congress of the International Road Transport Union in Oman to discuss plans for a railway linking Israel to the Persian Gulf.
In May, Bahrain had officially supported Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian aggression. In March, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with The Atlantic that, “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”
Israel enjoys unprecedented cooperation with the Arab Muslim world in light of shared security interests and changing dynamics in the region, Joshua S. Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project, wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in November. Block concluded, saying, “The rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world will change the region for the better.”
[Photo: Alghad TV – قناة الغد / YouTube ]