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  • Einat Elazari

All the Reasons Why the Arab States Might Support Trump’s Mideast Plan

After years of planning, the US administration has published the details of its Peace Initiative for Israel and the Palestinians. Now more than ever, there is a chance to secure the support of the Arab countries.

Snapshot from the front page of the Peace to Prosperity plan (credit: The White House).

President Trump’s administration earlier this week published the full details of the American Peace Initiative between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite the negative response of the Palestinian leadership, there are reasons why the Arab states might promote it and, perhaps, even pressure the Palestinian side to reconsider its position.

1. Iran – The common rivalry with Iran is one of the most significant factors behind the tightening relations between Israel and the Gulf countries. The growing presence of Iran and its proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria is one of the main reasons why the KSA and its regional partners are interested in stronger relations with Israel, one of the most reliable anti-Iranian regional partners they can have in the Middle East. Eliminating, or at least reducing, the volume of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will pave the way to a more public and closer cooperation with Israel.

2. New political leadership – Since the last effort to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, two new leaders have emerged, and they mean business: President Trump and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS). While the two leaders are aware of the complicated history of the conflict, they are interested in making history. Trump wants to be the first-ever US President to be responsible for establishing peace between Israelis and Palestinians. MBS, on the other hand, is interested in focusing on the front with Iran, knowing that any other conflict in the region is a distraction, both politically and financially, from this regional power race.

3. It’s the economy, stupid – It is always the economy, but now this is a more significant issue than ever before. Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf countries are losing geopolitical leverage as oil is no longer their financial joker:

a. The US is becoming 100% independent energetically. This means that the Gulf is not only losing its historically biggest client but now must face greater competition in oil export to the rest of the world.

b. The world is moving to use more renewable energies. Growing awareness of climate change and the ability to use more renewable energies marks the beginning of the end of rising oil demand.

Without the financial power that enabled some Gulf regimes to avoid taxing their residents and maintain non-diversified economies, it is necessary to take care of a new situation. In the last couple of years, there have been indications of the efforts of some Gulf states to learn, collaborate, and diversify growth by cooperating with Israel around technology, finance, business, and more.

4. US withdrawal from the region – The US administration under President Trump has made it very clear that there is not much will to be involved in costly conflicts outside of the US. Hence, the Arab countries realize that their regional alliances are more important than ever. In terms of military power and anti-Iran stance, Israel is one of the strongest allies they can get.

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