News of the demise of normalisation between the gulf states and Israel have been greatly exaggerated, it’s simply now a matter of when and how the Israelis will be forced to agree to establishment of a pseudo-Palestinian state.
The 7th of October operation by Hamas has neither shattered the resolve of the US to impose its will nor has the disproportionate response of the IDF reduced the enthusiasm of Gulf Arabs states to normalise. In fact, the silence from Arab capitals is deafening, they neither condone nor condemn, but in fact quietly cheer on Hamas and the mounting casualties among the Palestinian civilian population. Both make the likelihood of a face-saving agreement closer rather than further and saving face, no matter how flimsy the façade, is paramount in the Arab world.
The position of the Gulf states, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is of little consequence. They have neither the political will or the military might to make demands. Rather, as is the case with all to the exclusion of none, the very existence of their regimes in a tumultuous region is guaranteed by the military and political might of the US. Indeed, succession in many of these states is significantly influenced by Washington rather than decided by any national consensus. They are willing to accept whatever is offered and sanctioned by the US.
The contentious issues that exist, exist solely between the US and the Israelis. Despite the relationship between the US and Israel being reminiscent of a patron and its client, the strength of the Israel lobby and the utility of a western out crop in the heart of the middle east mitigates any pressure that a US administration can bring to bear on any Israeli misadventures.
The US envisions a normalisation which includes the formation of a Palestinian state. It deems this a necessary precondition to foster some form of stability in the region. The inability of 400 million Arabs, despite the astronomical wealth generated by hydrocarbons, to deal effectively with less than 10 million Israelis devoid of any natural resources underlines in stark terms the abject failure of Arabism and is a humiliation that can only be alleviated by the token gesture of a Palestinian state in what is left from the West Bank and Gaza strip. The US understands that the demise of Arabism means the rise of Islamism. In the minds of a frustrated and humiliated population no viable ideology exists to replace what is decrepit except what was seen to be successful in bygone ages.
Furthermore, as a pseudo colonial state the US has no intention of sharing its spoils, even with its own client state. It cannot allow Israel unfettered access to the Middle East hence a Palestinian state which moderates borders and buffers Israel is a desirable option for the US.
The Israelis have long sought a different approach, one which emphasises the rightful and historic place of Zion in the middle east, hence peace in exchange for peace rather than peace in exchange for land is the preferred solution proposed by the Zionists, and it is a solution that precludes the existence of a Palestinian state. To this end, Netanyahu and his acolytes have trumpeted the normalisation with Saudi devoid of any proposition of a Palestinian state as a model for future progress.
Despite the loss of life on both sides, recent hostilities have paradoxically reduced the obstacles to normalisation rather than increased. When a nation is a victim of its own propaganda and rational voices are reduced to a fringe, a fall from grace may jar one to ones senses.
Militarily, Israel has been dealt a severe blow. Although the Palestinian incursion into Israeli territory was brief and shallow it nevertheless shattered the myth of Israel’s myth of invincibility. Poorly equipped but motivated soldiers penetrated Israeli defences and overcame fortifications that had been taken twenty years to prepare. Israeli defence fared poorly against these ill equipped foes, though against a more capable enemy, victory is far from guaranteed.
Politically, Israel has suffered exponentially more. When it comes to the civility present in nations, Israel has joined an ignoble club. Israel’s putrid interior has been exposed to a shocked world. It has long been understood that Israeli society has veered to the right, but the extent of this change was somewhat concealed. The medieval brutality of the IDF, its disproportionate use of force and the mob baying for blood as the Israeli public and in fact its seasoned politicians have presented to the world has turned public opinion against the Israeli state. In the opinion of the world, Israel has joined a club of ultranationalist states like Serbia, Hungary and other neo fascist nations, almost a pariah to the international community. Public support for Israel has significantly waned, a fact Israeli politicians become acutely aware of.
The current crisis in Gaza presents a generational opportunity for the US to achieve its strategic objectives and establish a lasting solution to this intractable conflict, very much on its own terms. The arrival of two US aircraft carrier groups may be trumpeted as a message to Iran, but in fact it underlines to the Israelis that akin to its Gulf cousins its existence is only guaranteed by the might of the US. Israel is far from invincible, and in the court of international public opinion, corporate media cannot in the age of social media control the narrative. The US will extract concessions not from the Arab regimes whose loyalty knows no bounds, but from Israelis who, like the reluctant bride, will be dragged unwillingly up the aisle.