The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has occupied Muslim and Arab countries for the past seven decades. Israel occupied Palestine in the 1940s, pushed Palestinians out of their homes, made them refugees in neighbouring countries, and declared itself a Jewish state. Israel and the Arab world have been at odds since then. Following Israel’s establishment, there were numerous Arab-Israeli battles in which Israel emerged victoriously and the Arabs were humiliated.
Israeli victory was not only on the battlefield but also at the negotiating table. Israel had the upper hand in all Arab-Israeli peace treaties and agreements, and they all favoured Israel. Despite occupying Arab lands, destroying Arab cities and villages, depriving its people of their homeland, and settling its Jewish people, Israel maintains an international advantage. There are two reasons for this, in my opinion.
The first is that Israel enjoys unwavering support from key Western governments (especially the U.S). Jewish lobbying organizations are the most powerful lobbying organizations in the West, with a tremendous influence on Western foreign policies and billions spent on lobbying. Israel also gains public and political support in the West by claiming to be the only democracy in the region, and that it is threatened and surrounded by extremist Islamist countries that wish to destroy it.
The second issue is some Arab states’ duplicity and the lack of unity in the Palestinian cause. There are Arab countries who have direct connections with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, and more recently Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (which they have the right to do), but there are also those who coordinate with Israel under the table while pretending to support the Palestinian cause.
It is in these states’ best interests to come out and establish relations with Israel, as well as to negotiate with Israelis regarding the Arab and Palestinian causes. Arab countries are weak; they all face serious home issues such as terrorism and economic crises; most of them are in debt and unable to make important foreign policy decisions as a result of their debt, and some lack domestic freedom. You can’t let your neighbour free while you’re still in prison.
The Arabs suffer numerous domestic challenges that prevent them from confronting Israel and resolving the Palestinian issue. Arab countries must make significant changes in their domestic problems, as their failures in the Palestinian cause are largely due to domestic issues. Palestinian rights have not been achieved after more than seventy years and three major wars. The Arabs must alter their approach to the Palestinian cause.
In my opinion, Arab countries should acknowledge Israel on an informal basis. What exactly do I mean by this? Israel is a developed country with some of the world’s largest technology businesses and one of the world’s most powerful and well-equipped military. Israel must not be underestimated; it is a big regional force with global clout that must be dealt with appropriately. Turning a blind eye and claiming that Israel does not exist would achieve nothing; Israel exists, is lawful under international law, and is respected internationally.
Arabs must sit down with Israel as an existing body and discuss and resolve their differences without the need for foreign intermediaries. What I mean by informal recognition is that the Arabs should acknowledge Israel’s existence and sit down with them as an existing body to reach an agreement without the use of a mediator, an agreement that will end illegal settlements in the West Bank and result in the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. After these aims are met and Israel is brought to justice for its war crimes and atrocities, all Arab governments may completely recognize Israel.