THE JERUSALEM POST – Israel’s image in the region likely can improve amid the current developments [AND] It shows US influence is back in the region. The background of the current crises was a feeling that US President Donald Trump’s speech to “drive out” terror gave a blank check to local states to act. Under Barack Obama Israel sometimes felt isolated, especially as the US pursued the Iran deal. Now Israel feels that the Americans are back in the region and will stand by their allies.
1. It hurts Hamas
Qatar has supported Hamas over the last decade and hosted former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal for the last five years in Doha. In 2012 Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani visited Gaza and pledged hundreds of millions for the Strip. Qatar therefore provided Hamas not only a home in Doha but financial support and diplomatic succor. The new pressure on Qatar has encouraged it to expel Hamas members and will reduce its support for the group. This may also isolate Turkey’s relations with Hamas. Qataris are now focused on which airlines will still fly to the country tomorrow, spending money on the Gaza Strip and hosting Hamas may seem like a liability they don’t need now. Hamas will find itself with even fewer allies which could give Israel leverage to encourage the group to change its ways. More likely, Hamas may lash out against Israel to show its relevance.
2. It brings Israel closer to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf
Israel has shared interests with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in opposing Iran. Because Qatar has supported Hamas, the new crises encourages those states that oppose Qatar to see Israel as a partner against Hamas and against Iran. This relationship has already been quietly growing in recent years, but the crises with Qatar allows writers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to speak out more firmly against Hamas. Saudi’s Al Arabiya has showcased interviews with Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot.
3. It shows US influence is back in the region
The background of the current crises was a feeling that US President Donald Trump’s speech to “drive out” terror gave a blank check to local states to act. Under Barack Obama Israel sometimes felt isolated, especially as the US pursued the Iran deal. Now Israel feels that the Americans are back in the region and will stand by their allies.
4. It delegitimizes terror
The regimes that have broken relations with Qatar pay lip-service to fighting terror and instability. Israel prefers a stable region without terror groups undermining neighboring states. However there is ISIS in Sinai, Hamas in Gaza, Jihadists near the Golan and Hezbollah on the Golan and in Lebanon. In that sense Israel knows that any greater instability can be a threat. So long as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other states work in concert, the winds of stability will blow in Israel’s direction as well. The saying “all ships rise with the tide” is apt. All stable countries in the region will rise if extremist groups are reduced.
5. It bolsters Israel’s hand in general and Israel’s current government in particular
Israel benefits when it is not the center of attention and certainly when it is not under pressure. This is a boon for the current government because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long spoken about working towards quietly cultivating regional relationships beyond Egypt and Jordan that stretch to the Gulf. He has spoken about the Iranian threat for two decades. If the Arab states are more concerned with Iran and Qatar, than with the Palestinians, that takes pressure off of Israel, at a time when Palestinians are trying to remind the region that they are facing fifty years of living under Israel’s military rule. Over the years Israel has gone from being seen as the center of the region’s problems, to today when the Palestinian issue is dwarfed by larger conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen Libya and now in the Gulf. That plays into Netanyahu’s narrative, and takes the wind out of any sails that hoped 50 years since 1967 would have some sort of jarring affect. This will have some blowback because voices in the region will accuse the Gulf and Saudi of working “for Israel.” Syria and Iran already accuse them of working with Israel. But these voices are already opposed Israel, which means Israel’s image in the region likely can improve amidst the current crises.