Israel? Isolated? Not really.
The claim by Palestinian nationalists and their sympathizers that Israel is globally ostracized for failing to as of yet facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state is easily debunked. As it so happens, Israel isn’t even all that isolated within the Arab world.
For decades, the rest of the Middle East did indeed boycott the Jewish state. But that has been changing of late, and a couple of examples just this past week indicated a rapid acceleration of the normalization process.
Israelis were surprised over the weekend to wake up to newspaper headlines informing us that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just returned from an official state visit to Oman.
Netanyahu was personally invited to the Omani capital of Muscat by the country’s leader, Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said, to discuss regional issues.
A day later, Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi addressed a security summit in Bahrain, where he urged the rest of the Arab Middle East to likewise embrace the Jewish state.
“Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same [as other states] and to also bear the same obligations,” bin Alawi told the IISS Manama Dialogue conference.
Also over the weekend, the United Arab Emirates hosted its annual Abu Dhadi Judo Grand Slam, and, for the first time ever, Israeli judokas were permitted to compete under their national flag.
Three Israelis won bronze medals, and the Israeli flag was on display as they were awarded by the Arab hosts.
More than that, Israel Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev was invited to attend the competition in her official capacity. Photos of Regev making friendly with UAE President Mohamed Bin Tha’loob Al Derai quickly made waves across the region.
These more recent encounters happened amid a general warming of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. While Jerusalem still has no official relations with any of these Arab countries, their willingness to publicly cuddle up to the Jewish state and its leaders represents a sea change since September 1, 1967, when these same countries joined the rest of the Arab world in signing the Khartoum Resolution outlawing any and all ties with Israel.
PHOTO: Netanyahu meeting with Sultan Qaboos at his palace in Muscat, Oman on October 26, 2018. (Israel Prime Minister’s Office)