President Trump’s announcement today that Bahrain will be the latest Arab country to recognize Israel starts to make it look like we could be on the way to a Mideast Peace. It would be unwise to get ahead of events, but it would also be unwise not to recognize at least the possibility that is coming into view. Predicting this development Thursday, Mr. Trump declared, “You could have peace in the Middle East."
The announcement by the White House today comes in advance of what was already shaping up as a remarkable event for Tuesday, when Mr. Trump is due to host at the White House the signing of the entente between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Prime Minister Netanyahu will be there, as will U.A.E.’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Now, the White House says, Bahrain will be there, as well.
We don’t mind saying that we were opposed to Mr. Trump’s pursuit of a Middle East peace. It was nothing personal. We’ve opposed nearly all American efforts to play the so-called “honest broker” in the Middle East. Our preference has been to back Israel and wait for the rest of the region to come around (or not). Pursuing peace by getting between the Jewish state and her enemies does more harm than good.
Yet Mr. Trump has impressed us with his sagacity. We first tipped our hat to it two weeks into his presidency, when we issued an editorial called “Trump’s Iran Strategy.” It had quickly become apparent that he was going to focus, as we put it, “less on the Palestinian predicament and more on winning the war against jihadist Islam.” He was going to side with the Sunni Arabs against Shiite Iran.
In that feud we don’t have a strong view. It did, though, put Israel’s Arab neighbors in the thrall of, in Mr. Trump, an exceptionally strong backer of Israel. Mr. Trump’s redemption of his campaign promise to move our Israel embassy to Jerusalem put the Arabs in a position that they would have to choose. It did so more emphatically than any recent démarche we can think of.
In and of itself, any one of these recognitions would be a modest step. Yet they had already started to snowball with the plan of Kosovo and Serbia to recognize one another and to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem. Now that the chain of events has extended to Bahrain, it all starts to look potentially historic — with much credit to Mr. Trump and his whole camarilla.
None of this, moreover, would be possible without the behind the scenes blessing of Saudi Arabia. That is stressed by our leg at the United Nations, Benny Avni. Israel is keen for the kingdom to establish relations. The Saudis themselves, along with Bahrain, have, Jared Kushner indicated Wednesday, okayed the use of their air space by flights to and from the Jewish state.
It’s hard to imagine all, or any, of this happening under, say, a Biden administration. Senator Biden was an early co-sponsor of the Jerusalem Embassy Act. Yet, so far as we can tell, he did nothing since to press for implementing the law. The Obama-Biden administration plumped for articles of appeasement with Iran and let the Security Council pass a resolution, 2234, denying Israel part of Jerusalem.
Neither the Clinton, the George W. Bush, nor the Obama-Biden administrations were prepared to move our embassy to Jerusalem, a move that now seems to have been an air-clearing step toward peace. With these developments coming into view, Mr. Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in peace by at least two parliamentarians, one a Swede and one from Norway, whose parliament actually awards the prize.
We understand how unlikely it is that Norway would actually bestow the peace prize on Mr. Trump. We also understand, though, how quickly international events can move. Once the cracks appeared in Eastern Europe in 1989, the communist bloc disintegrated with astonishing speed. Could the same be starting to happen in respect of the rejection of Israel in the Middle East?