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An Update from CUFI Action Fund













Dear
,

In this week’s CUFI Action Update we are going to update readers on the current state of the peace proposal, delve into the Arab world’s reaction to the proposal including the thaw underway between certain nations and Israel, and touch on the Trump administration’s most recent efforts to counter Iran.

Peace Proposal Update

During President Trump’s State of the Union address this week, he discussed his Middle East peace proposal noting, “Recognizing that all past attempts have failed, we must be determined and creative in order to stabilize the region and give millions of young people the chance to realize a better future.”

Presently, Israel remains committed to the plan and the Palestinians remain stubbornly opposed to the opportunity. But a great deal of the wisdom of this proposal was that it does not allow Palestinian rejectionism to serve as a roadblock to progress.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that Israel will begin annexation efforts following the Jewish state’s March 2nd election. Notably, with Blue and White leader Gen. Benny Gantz having endorsed the plan and indicating a desire to bring it before a full Knesset vote, it appears that regardless of who wins the Israeli election, Israel will be embarking down the road laid out by President Trump’s peace proposal.

Please note: while the CUFI Action Fund offers relevant analysis, like our sister organization Christians United for Israel, we takes no position on domestic Israeli matters, including elections.

An “Arab-Israeli” Conflict No More?

From Egypt and Jordan, which have formal peace treaties with Israel, to Saudi Arabia and certain Gulf Arab nations, to Morocco and Sudan, the tide is shifting in Arab-Israeli relations. Though once bitter enemies of Israel, many of these countries have begun to realize that they have no quarrel with the Jewish state.

Last week, the ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Bahrain were all in attendance at the rollout of President Trump’s peace proposal. The foreign minister of the UAE later tweeted out an article by conservative columnist Bret Stephens at the New York Times which noted that “every time the Palestinians say ‘no’” to Israel, “they lose.”

For their part, the foreign ministry of Saudi Arabia reacted fairly positively to the proposal, releasing a statement that notes, “the Kingdom appreciates the efforts made by President Trump's administration to develop a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace plan…” 

In addition, both the governments of Sudan and Morocco moved closer this week to normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel.

Here in the US, there are members of the Arab community that also believe the peace proposal has value. For example, a Moroccan publisher who sits on the Board of Atlantic Council and serves as a counselor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies made a case for the plan in the pages of The Hill, stating, “the plan is, by comparison with its predecessors, refreshingly realistic.”

Naysayers may note that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League rejected the peace proposal unanimously, but what they are ignoring is that when left to their own devices – devoid of the threats and pressures associated with those two international organizations – several Arab nations welcomed the plan, and in doing so made statements in line with their own national interests.

Fundamentally, many Arab leaders have ceased to view “resistance” against Israel as a part of their national ambitions. They see the Palestinian movement as completely infected by maximalist rejectionism. None-the-less, the leaders of these countries remain concerned with those violent extremists who would use a formal Arab rapprochement with Israel as a way to recruit more violent extremists. And Arab leaders are always mindful of how Iran might use détente with Israel to turn Arab anti-Semitic sentiment against the rulers of Arab powers. This said, Arab leaders increasingly recognize that their national interests are best served by a stable Middle East and relationship with the economic powerhouse that is the Jewish state.

Perhaps most importantly, front-of-mind for each of these Arab countries is the threat posed by an increasingly aggressive Iran. And when it comes to Iran, the Arab world’s two greatest allies are Israel and the United States.

Maximizing Maximum Pressure

Late last week, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, and sanctioned the individual who oversees that entity. At the same time, the White House extended civilian nuclear waivers for the Islamic Republic for sixty days.

While seemingly contradictory, these two decisions effectively highlight the choice Iran’s rulers have before them.

As President Trump noted during his State of the Union address, “In recent months, we have seen proud Iranians raise their voices against their oppressive rulers. The Iranian regime must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop spreading terror, death, and destruction, and start working for the good of its own people. Because of our powerful sanctions, the Iranian economy is doing very poorly. We can help them make it very good in a short period of time, but perhaps they are too proud or too foolish to ask for that help. We are here. Let’s see which road they choose. It is totally up to them.”

The CUFI Action Fund believes that Iran must abandon its present course and agrees with President Trump’s position that no sanctions should be lifted in order to secure negotiations. Iran must end its military nuclear program and cease supporting terrorism around the world before the pressure is relieved.

In the coming months, the CUFI Action Fund will work to address Iran’s civilian nuclear waivers as well as the impending conclusion of the UN arms embargo on the Islamic Republic. And as always, we will work to ensure the US-Israel relationship remains as strong and vibrant as ever. As we do so, we will need leaders like you to communicate to your elected officials the importance of support for Israel, combatting anti-Semitism and standing up to regional belligerents like Iran and Hezbollah.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about these vital issues, and thank you for your support of the CUFI Action Fund.

Sincerely,
CUFI Action Fund Team


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