In the wake of the recent Warsaw Conference, numerous media reports assert that it has become self-evident that the majority of Arab countries now view Iran to be a greatest threat to regional peace and stability. Furthermore, the reports claim that the Arab countries are no longer willing to halt all dialogue with Israel in order to appease the Palestinian Authority. To the contrary, the reports assert that most Arab countries seek to cooperate with the State of Israel in order to halt the Iranian threat and some, like Oman, are even willing to come out and say it openly in front of the cameras
In light of these developments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on his Facebook page that the State of Israel has “reached a historic turning point. In a room of some sixty foreign ministers and representatives of dozens of governments, an Israeli prime minister and the foreign ministers of leading Arab countries stood together and spoke with unusual force, clarity and unity against the common threat of the Iranian regime. This marks a change, an important understanding of what threatens our future, what we have to do to secure it and the possibilities of cooperation that extend beyond security to every realm of life for the peoples of the Middle East. This happened here in Warsaw and the main conclusion that I have is that it must continue in other forms, in other ways for the same purpose.”
However, even though Netanyahu is quite confident that there is great potential for Israel to achieve peace with the greater Arab world following Warsaw, to what extent was Warsaw a game changer for Israel in the Arab world? In an exclusive interview with JerusalemOnline, Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, still urged caution and warned that aside from behind the scenes cooperation on Iran, not much has changed.
“The Warsaw Peace Conference appears smiley and secure complete with hand-shaking and rich cocktails, similar to every other peace conference there was in the past 26 years and nothing came out of them,” Safadi noted. “We dreamed of peace and sang peace songs but the other side dreamed of terror and sang jihadist songs. They blew up buses and places of enjoyment in the name of Allah. They are still those who are delusional and anti-Semitic who point the accusatory finger at Israel.”
“It is impossible to achieve real peace in the Arab world,” Safadi stressed. “Radical Islam controls the Arab street, and as long as Qatar and Iran continue to finance weapons arsenals and terror in the region, Israel will not be able to accept a plan presented by Europe or the US. When terror becomes the routine of the other side, who refuses to give up on it, even the deal of the century formed by senior level officials in the Trump administration cannot exist under the current conditions. Before the destruction of Iran and Qatar’s abilities to finance terrorism, nothing will change in the region.”
“The Arab countries are aware of the fact that the Iranian threat is the only danger to regional security,” Safadi proclaimed, adding that the Arab countries understand that Israel is their only chance to repel this threat, which is why they were willing to meet with Netanyahu at Warsaw despite the objections of the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, Safadi noted that both Israel and most Arab governments are in agreement that Iran must be stopped if Arab-Israeli peace is ever going to see the light of day: “Even a senior level official in the Persian Gulf told me that the strategic mistake of the Arab world is that Israel was transformed into the only regional threat and they ignored the Iranian threat.”
However, it does not appear that Iran will go down without a fight. In the aftermath of the Warsaw Conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the risk of war with Israel is great and it will be even greater if Israel continues to turn a blind eye to “violations of international law,” which Al Jazeera claims is a reference to Israel’s attacks upon Iranian targets in Syria. Furthermore, Iran’s Press TV interviewed numerous analysts from the Arab world, who all stressed how the Arab street is ashamed of their leadership and is still anti-Israel. As Safadi concluded, “The greatest challenge of today is to change hearts and minds and to correct the injustice that was done to Israel over many years.”