The Arab World is Watching the Israeli Political Crisis with Deepening Concern.
By Kamal Labawni
To Arab observers, the situation in Israel appears to have introduced a serious new source of instability into the region, one that endangers both the possibility of a two-state solution and the normalization agreements with Israel.
First, Arab observers see the makeup of the Netanyahu government as one that expressly intends to undermine the two-state solution through settlement expansion and the weakening of the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu appears determined to continue with his previous goal of annexing large sections of the West Bank, leaving the rest of the PA’s West Bank territory as an entity that can never be a viable independent state. In this scenario, the PA’s West Bank territory would have no option but to be a local self-governing region linked to and depending on Jordan. Arabs perceive that this outcome is what the Israeli religious right that dominates Netanyahu’s government wants, but this vision contradicts the position of the West and almost the entire international community. It also contradicts the position of the Israeli left and center. In the region, Arab observers and governments believe the Netanyahu vision for the West Bank would make it impossible for Arab-Israeli peace initiatives to continue.
Since the beginning of the Trump administration, the Arab world has concluded that Netanyahu wanted to sideline the Palestinian cause and make peace with the Arabs without the Palestinians, an approach that President Trump helped to advance through the Abraham Accords. But the Arab world also believes that the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that Trump offered did not include an actual Palestinian state but instead reflected Netanyahu’s plan.
Today, Arab commentators conclude that Jordan, Egypt, and the countries that signed the Abraham Accords cannot proceed any further with normalization because their populations are sympathetic to the Palestinian people. They conclude that the Netanyahu government’s policies are undermining not just future peace, but the peace agreements that were previously made.
Arabs are also worried that the Israeli political crisis represents the new disunity of the Israeli people and the possibility that Israeli is becoming a religious nationalist state that will not respect many of its citizens’ rights, let alone Palestinian rights.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that across the Arab world, a large majority of Arabs are now hoping for the fall of the Netanyahu government because they consider this to be the only hope for Arab-Israeli peace. They are convinced that if the Netanyahu government continues on its policy path, Israel will face a difficult stage, and the region’s problems and conflicts will increase, to the detriment of global peace and security.
March 21, 2023