BLOOMBERG Politics & Policy
Israel-Arab Peace Solves One Problem, Creates Another
For a country of polarized tribes held together by a common threat, that can be dangerous indeed.
By Zev Chafets
September 15, 2020, 4:12 PM GMT+3
Losing one enemy, clinging to another.
Zev Chafets is a journalist and author of 14 books. He was a senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the founding managing editor of the Jerusalem Report Magazine.Email
In the winter of 1977, a month after former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic trip to Israel, I went to Cairo as a member of the first Israeli peace delegation. This was a heady time, especially for me. I was optimistic that peace with the Arab world was now at hand.
I expressed this optimism to General Abrasha Tamir, a fellow delegate and one of Israel's most senior strategic planners. "Israel will always need at least one enemy in the Middle East," he snorted in reply.
I put this down to Tamir’s well-known contrarian streak. But the remark struck with me and I eventually came to understand its wisdom. I recall it today as Israel sits down, for the first time in a quarter century, to sign peace agreements with two Arab states, this time at the White House.
The Middle East is a famously contentious place. There is hardly a co