The much-vaunted announcement that Bahrain will normalize relations with Israel, hot on the heels of the United Arab Emirates, has been greeted with excitement in Western foreign policy circles. But true stability in the region is a long way off.
With more than 750,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem now, the stakes are much higher in 2020. The U.S. should create a new model for bilateral support that entrenches Palestinian sovereignty rather than incentivizes Israeli settlements.
Perhaps a more accurate way to evaluate this agreement is the consolidation and formalization of ties that have been in the works, largely subterranean, for a decade or more. But the strategic impact, at least for now, won’t be nearly as consequential as Israel’s peace treaties.
Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank may have been temporarily suspended, but anyone who believes the world is any closer to a negotiation, let alone an agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is mistaken.
Yezid Sayigh is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, where he leads the program on Civil-Military Relations in Arab States (CMRAS). His work focuses on the comparative political and economic roles of Arab armed forces and nonstate actors, the impact of war on states and societies, and the politics of postconflict reconstruction and security sector transformation in Arab transitions, and authoritarian resurgence.
Sarah Yerkes is a senior fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program, where her research focuses on Tunisia’s political, economic, and security developments as well as state-society relations in the Middle East and North Africa.
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