The recent visit of the Pope to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was overshadowed by the twists and turns of the Israeli election process, which is beginning to resemble Alice in Wonderland on steroids. Nevertheless, the statements of the UAE Crown Prince foreshadow the possibility, indeed likelihood, of a paradigm shift in Arab relations with Israel. He strongly hinted that UAE recognition of and establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel was practically around the corner. Should that happen, it is predictable that Bahrain and Oman will follow in short order, and eventually Saudi Arabia and perhaps Kuwait, Tunisia and Morocco also, to be added to Egypt and Jordan.
This is a particularly bad time for Israel to be at political war with itself. It is also a bad time for the same person to be Prime Minister and Foreign Minister (not to mention other ministerial posts). These diplomatic opportunities should be actively pursued, which is unlikely to happen while everyone is running for office.
Simultaneously Iran, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Khomeini coup d'etat, is issuing serial threats of armed action against Israel. Given the parlous state of the Iranian economy at this time, due to the sanctions and a serious drought, it is quite conceivable that the mullahs in desperation will order their proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to attack Israel simultaneously, a nightmare scenario for the IDF.
The Chinese character for "crisis" is made up of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity". The Israeli authorities must seize the opportunities while avoiding the dangers from Tehran. Not a good time for playing silly electoral games.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The views he expresses are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of "Globes."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 14, 2019
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