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Island of Tranquility

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
Vol. 19, No. 01
Weekly Standard


Egypt is an unruly military dictatorship, Syria is at war and will soon be hit by American bombs, the government may fall in Tunisia, Libya has no real government, Lebanon is now seeing growing Sunni-Shia strife, Jordan has a half-million Syrian refugees and the flow continues—one could go on. The "Arab Spring" seems to have led to a summer of tornadoes.

And there in the middle sits an island of tranquility, Israel—indeed one could even say Israel and the West Bank. No political instability, no terrorism, no war. One good way of measuring the mood in Israel is just how alert or relaxed the guards at every restaurant entrance appear to be. And they are very relaxed these days. The economy is okay, the prime minister looks like he'll last a few years even if he isn't beloved, and relations with many key Arab neighbors are good.

There are secret but obvious contacts with the Egyptian Army and cooperation against the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in Gaza and Sinai, cooperation with Jordan that keeps the border along the Jordan River dead quiet, coordination between Israeli and Palestinian security forces against terrorists in the West Bank, and a new alignment of Israel with the Gulf states that fear the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria, and Iran. Right now, Emirati, Saudi, and Israeli interests in the region are as close as they have ever been—and top officials all know it.

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