Sept. 14, 2018
- The Middle East peace process, marshaled largely under U.S. aegis, has been a resounding success. Most of the Arab states and Israel have not only embraced a diplomatic alternative to conflict but effectively renounced war as a way to resolve their differences. The October 1973 War was the last inter-state war between Arabs and Israelis.
- Both Arab states and Israel have forged much closer ties with the U.S. over the 40 years since the dawn of the modern peace process, building strategic partnerships with Washington that extend to all levels of diplomatic, military, and intelligence relations. Some of those Arab states have even developed important, if quiet, ties with Israel.
- The political breach between Israel and the Palestinians masks a deeper, more enduring strategic reality. The Palestinian Authority created by the Oslo Accords is a reasonably well-functioning entity, certainly by regional standards. On the World Happiness Index, the Palestinian territories came in ahead of Tunisia and Egypt, as well as such war-torn Arab countries as Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
- Despite Israel’s security barrier, the border between Israel and the PA is not nearly the hermetically sealed cage it is widely thought to be. About 80,000 Palestinians work in Israel every day, half with legal working papers and half with Israeli authorities looking the other way. When salaries to Palestinian workers in Israel are included, direct Israeli-Palestinian trade totals about $6 billion.
- Even in terms of security, while the total number of Israelis killed by terrorists originating in PA-administered West Bank territory over the ten-year period from 2007 to 2016 was 70, this amounts to about one-fifth of the number of homicides that the city of Baltimore suffered in just one year (343 in 2017).
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.