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Opportunity for cooperation between Israel and Arabs has never been greater

David Ignatius on

Dahlan and his Emirati backers have bigger plans. He told the AP that the UAE has pledged to finance a $100 million electricity plant, to be built on the Egyptian side of the border, to help power Gaza. Although Dahlan is a long-time rival of Abbas, U.S. officials insist they don't want to undermine the PA leader.

Beyond the machinations in Gaza is a larger vision for restarting a Palestinian peace process drawing on the alliance of moderate Sunni leaders. Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi already have extensive, friendly relations with Israel. Mohammed bin Zayed, the military leader of the UAE, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed don't have formal ambassadorial contacts with Israel. But they share a common enemy in Iran.

MBS, as the Saudi crown prince is known, has made some brash moves that have caused him trouble, including the war in Yemen. But he's willing to take risks on the reform side, too, including challenging the kingdom's religious establishment. Prince Khaled, the Saudi ambassador, said that MBS believes resolution of the Palestinian problem and peace with Israel "is crucial for the future of the Middle East."

"This young, dynamic leadership presents opportunities that may not have existed before," argues Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to Washington. The White House clearly shares that view.

When it comes to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, 50 years of peacemaking history sadly warns us that a new initiative probably won't work. And Trump's domestic problems weaken his ability to deliver on Kushner's advance work. But it must be said: The opportunities for trade, investment and security cooperation between Israel and the Arabs have never been greater.

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David Ignatius' email address is davidignatius@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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