Relations between Israel and the Gulf states shed light on the price to be paid in order to achieve regional peace, especially since such relations require Arab regimes to trample on human rights, an Israeli researcher has said.
In a research paper published by the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, Kathy Faxburg added that Israel is showing a clear degree of acceleration in developing its relations with the Gulf States. Although these relations appear to be centred on cooperation between the two sides, Israel and the Gulf regimes are in fact helping each other in shared security concerns rather than working in the best interests of their citizens.
Faxburg, a researcher at Ben Gurion University who specialises in Arab literature, social sciences and Arab academia, especially in the Gulf States, indicated that since Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the Sultanate of Oman in October 2018, the media debate has been escalating around the Israeli-Gulf rapprochement, official meetings and Israeli participation in sports events and Expo 2020 in the UAE. There is also an ongoing discussion on tourism opportunities.
The main "normalisation" states at the political, diplomatic and economic levels are said to be Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. Such moves serve their significant security needs and ensure the survival of the ruling regimes. Criticism of this has been vocal, including protests against Israel's violations of the rights of the Palestinians who live under its military occupation.
According to Faxburg, the existing cooperation between the right-wing government in Israel and those Arab regimes not only endangers the rights of Palestinians, but also jeopardises the cultural, social and political aspects of the Gulf States and Israel themselves. The growing links between Netanyahu's government and Gulf leaders fulfil the aspirations of Donald Trump, as these parties share the fear of Islamic movements, especially those affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the US president has tried to designate as a "terrorist entity".
The researcher pointed out that the Gulf States have used the claim to be fighting terrorism in order to clamp down on their own citizens. This has increased the numbers of arrests and forced disappearance in these counties, while Israeli companies such as NSO Group and DarkMatter Group are profiting from selling spyware programmes to the regimes.