Search Comment Central
Image: Bartolomiej Pietrzyk / Shutterstock
Image: Bartolomiej Pietrzyk / Shutterstock

Arab states crucial to peace in Israel and Palestine

Sir Liam Fox MP
January 5, 2024

The Abraham Accord agreements of 2020, brokered by the Trump administration, aimed at reconciliation and cooperation between Israel and the Arab states of the UAE and Bahrain, with Morocco joining the process later. While the results were encouraging it was always clear that Iran would try to scupper any peace process as its leaders believe Israel should not exist and a meaningful peace process would thwart their regional ambitions. 

When I saw the Saudi Crown Prince appear on Fox News in the US, saying, in an excellent interview, that every day his country was closer to Israel, I believed Iran would act either directly or via its proxies. None of us, however, foresaw the barbarity that was to come with the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians. Israel’s response to attempt to find the perpetrators of the atrocities and free the hostages has been bloody as Hamas knew, and intended, it would be. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has himself admitted that attempts to minimise casualties have been "not successful” and the carnage continues.

Unless it is ended, there is a danger that a whole new generation will be radicalised in the region. If we do not act, we may find that, far from continuing the process of peaceful cooperation represented by the Abraham Accords, we could return to the 1970s, with constant violence in the region and the export of terror to the rest of the world. None of us want to see a return to the hijacks, or a Munich massacre ever again.

While there is, understandably and justifiably, a focus on a short-term ceasefire, more effort must be given to finding a desirable end state which would be the best humanitarian outcome.

We need global leadership and vision, setting clear strategic aims for the Middle East. This requires us to be precise about the terms we use, and that includes the word “peace”. As I said in the House of Commons, “Peace is not just the absence of war or conflict, but the freedom from the fear of conflict, oppression, or terror. Peace requires mutual respect, freedom from persecution and living without fear of destitution. It comes with self-determination and liberation from arbitrary justice. It needs hope and dignity, and enforceable rights. Only when all the people of the Middle East can achieve all those things can any of us talk about having achieved peace.”

More effort must be given to finding a desirable end state Quote

There needs to be a hardheaded realism about the new environment in which we find ourselves, and the need for everyone to make changes if a meaningful piece is to be achieved. We need to set a real timetable for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the era of warm words about its desirability will no longer wash. It will require an international agreement to provide security for both Israelis and Palestinians alike. Leaving the containment of the Iranian-backed Hamas to Israel alone risks a repeat of the current horrors and Israelis have a right to live without the fear of terrorists and foreign powers who would see them wiped off the map.

Arab nations, especially, but not exclusively, Saudi Arabia, need to be part of dealing with extremist groups if we are to see long-term security and stability and they will also need to be involved in establishing a stable form of governance in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. This will need to consign the corruption and brutality of Hamas and the ineptitude of the PA to history. A workable authority needs to be established to give ordinary Palestinians access to the educational, medical, and social services that will provide real hope for the future.

We need a sense of urgency on these issues. There may be a relatively short window in which effective action can be taken to avoid a worst-case scenario that will see violence pour out of the region into others, including our own.

We will also have to deal properly with Iran’s other proxies, the Houthis, and their threat to international shipping in the Red Sea. Disruption of the global economy, at a time of high fragility, would be a clear win for Iran. Our experience of creating an international coalition against Somali piracy should prepare us to take decisive action and quickly.

In my time in Parliament, I have been a staunch ally of Israel and a close friend to many Arab nations, including my time as defence secretary and international trade secretary. I have been honoured to chair the UK Abraham Accords group for the past two years. I believe that there is a genuine desire for peace and cooperation, and while we should use all our influence to encourage this, we must stand up to nations such as Iran, who would wreck any peace process for their own perverse ideological reasons. The process will not be easy, but the prize could be, in every way, historic.

800px Official portrait of Dr Liam Fox crop 2

Sir Liam Fox is the Conservative MP for North Somerset and is a former defence and international trade secretary.

Border
Most Popular
Image: Pexels / Olga Lioncat
The economy is not doing...
Max Mosley 1
Max Mosley
February 28, 2024
What to read next
Shutterstock 1970500805
The Conservatives are in the opinion poll doldrums. Despite its completely...
800px Official portrait of Dr Liam Fox crop 2
Sir Liam Fox MP
November 21, 2023
Darren halstead B v X Fdzvw3g unsplash
Too much emphasis on cultural issues could alienate voters whose main...
800px Official portrait of Dr Liam Fox crop 2
Sir Liam Fox MP
June 21, 2023
Image: Pexels / Olga Lioncat
The economy is not doing as badly as before, but it...
Max Mosley 1
Max Mosley
February 28, 2024