In the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s positive response to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi’s call for peace talks, moderate Arab states have been reaching out diplomatically to Israel and showing some flexibility regarding the Arab Peace Initiative, Israel’s channel 10 reported on Friday.
Arab governments, including those of Egypt and the Gulf states, have indicated their interest in publicly changing their posture towards Israel, according to the report. Their officials are now waiting for Netanyahu’s response to their offer for further discussions on the initiative.
Dore Gold, the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said three years ago that the Arab Peace Initiative was “something positive,” as it showed that the Arab world was interested in reaching out to Israel. However, he cautioned that “it would be great if this was the basis for sitting down and [bringing] our positions to the table,” rather than a non-negotiable proposal.
Echoing the idea that the initiative could be a useful bridge for peace if it is a starting point, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror said in a forum earlier this month with Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, that the proposal could bring “both sides under an umbrella to negotiate.”
Ties between Israel and Egypt have improved since Sisi came to power in 2013. Both nations have shared interests in fighting ISIS-affiliated terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has allowed the Egyptian army to technically break their peace treaty by operating in the eastern and northern parts of Sinai against ISIS. Israel also helped Egypt locate a Russian airliner that had crashed in the Sinai last year.
This January, Egypt returned its ambassador to Israel, a move that Netanyahu said would “further strengthen relations with this important and key Arab country.” When Egypt agreed last month to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, it obtained a guarantee that the Saudis would respect Israel’s right of passage through the area.