Is Israel Finally Normalized in the Middle East?
In his speech at the economic conference in Bahrain, Jared Kushner presented a vision of an economically prosperous Palestine to the gathered leaders and businessmen. Some observers noted that the Bahrain conference itself is a foretaste of the political and economic reality it promises: an era in which Israel is normalized in the Arab world. More at Vox.
Given the Palestinian boycott of the Peace to Prosperity workshop, the White House invited no Israeli officials. But Israeli members of the press, the business community and civil society who have made their way to this tiny island nation are being treated like VIPs. If formal normalization remains elusive, Israeli-Bahraini ties, on a personal level, have almost looked… well, normal.
To signal their dissatisfaction with the agenda, most countries have sent no rank higher than deputy minister. But they are there, at an international conference on the Palestinians, without the Palestinians’ participation. And it is being hosted by and in an Arab country. In public… no, it won’t bring peace. But just by taking place, the economic workshop has moved the needle in a major way against the Palestinians and in the direction of Benjamin Netanyahu’s vision for the region.
The choice of Bahrain is convenient for Israel, too. In recent years, Bahrain’s rulers have been publicly displaying openness toward Israel, contrary to the Saudis whose contacts with Israel are conducted largely behind closed doors… However, Bahrain’s rulers have not had a change of heart on the Palestinian issue. In all their declarations, they invariably make clear that progress on the Palestinian issue is a prerequisite for any normalization with Israel.