In December 1981, Begin applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights, disregarding the brutal U.S. opposition, which included the suspension of a U.S.-Israel strategic accord and the supply of advanced military systems. While the heavy U.S. sanctions were replaced by an unprecedented U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, the Golan Heights have become an integral part of the Jewish state.
The aforementioned Israeli premiers defied international pressure, and therefore were burdened with a short-term loss of global popularity. However, they earned long-term respect for their willingness to defy the odds at severe cost. Thus, they bolstered Israel’s posture of deterrence, which has played a key role in enhancing Israel’s national security and Israel’s regional/global standing, including its unprecedented military and commercial cooperation with all pro-U.S. Arab countries.
Middle East reality (Israel-Arab relations)
Conventional wisdom is that an Israeli application of its law to the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria would threaten the Israel-Jordan and Israel-Egypt peace treaties, and could abort the burgeoning relations between Israel and all Arab Gulf States. This school of thought underestimates key Arab national security priorities, which have always transcended the Palestinian issue. It ignores the significant role played by Israel’s posture of deterrence in the national security strategy of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
For example, the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty reflects Jordanian national security priorities, rather than a Jordanian reconciliation with the existence of an “infidel” Jewish state in the “abode of Islam.”
Just like all Arab regimes—and especially since the eruption of the still raging “Arab Tsunami” in 2010—the pro-U.S. regime in Amman is highly vulnerable, domestically and regionally.
Irrespective of its pro-Palestinian rhetoric, Jordan’s actions—since 1949 when it occupied Judea and Samaria, while prohibiting Palestinian political activity—have represented the overall Arab view of the Palestinians as a role model of intra-Arab subversion and terrorism.
Jordan’s Hashemite regime considers the proposed Palestinian state a clear and present lethal threat. At the same time, it considers Israel’s posture of deterrence as its most effective line of defense against lethal threats, domestically (subversion by Palestinians, Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and hostile southern Bedouin) and externally (Iran’s ayatollahs, Iraq and Syria).
King Abdullah II is aware of the key role played by Israel’s posture of deterrence in forcing a retreat of the 1970 Syrian invasion of Jordan, when the United States was unable to extend military help.
Jordan considers Israel a unique source of intelligence and counter-terrorism assistance. Israel supplies water to the 1.5 million refugees from Syria, provides Jordan with commercial access to the port of Haifa and price-discounted offshore natural gas. Moreover, Israel is the most effective lobby for Jordan in Washington, D.C. In addition, Israel has accorded Jordan a prominent inter-Islamic plum: the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites.
Is King Abdullah II expected to cut off his nose to spite his face?
Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf states, as well as Egypt, regard Israel as a most reliable and effective ally in the face of mutual threats, such as Iran’s ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and potential tectonic spillovers from Iraq and Syria.
This Saudi-Israel congruence of national security interests eclipses the role played by the Palestinian issue in Riyadh’s order of national priorities. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia appreciates the Israeli technological and potential scientific contribution to its effort to diversify its oil-dependent economy.
In fact, Riyadh considers the proposed Palestinian state a potential rogue regime, siding with its arch enemies. Hence, the effective Saudi opposition (contrary to its rhetoric) to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Thus, the national security concerns of the pro-U.S. Arab countries is advanced by a reinforced Israeli posture of deterrence. On the other hand, a hesitant, appeasing and retreating Israel, which sacrifices its independence of national security action on the altar of overseas green lights, whets the appetite of terrorists and rogue regimes, which threatens the national security of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and all other pro-U.S. Arab countries, thus undermining vital U.S. interests.
This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.