Despite peace and normalization deals, Israel remains an alien state

Motasem A. Dalloul

Middle East Monitor  /   June 5, 2023

Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement in 1979, the first signed between an Arab country and the occupation state. Since then, the borders have been mostly calm and peaceful. As per  the terms of the deal, Israel is allowed to bring any military equipment it desires to the Egypt-Israel border area, while the Egyptians are only allowed to have a few lightly armed soldiers in the area.

Israel and the brokers of the peace and normalization deals – namely the United States – have always known it would be difficult to integrate the occupation state into the body of the Arab nation, but they continued with their efforts to do so.

To this end, they supported oppressive authoritarian regimes and helped bury every attempt to bring democracy to all countries that surround Israel. They even provided arms, money and media whitewashing to allow the oppressive regimes to crackdown on their people. These countries even changed their education curricula to refer to Israel as a friend or at least a reality that exists on the ground, while the Palestinians are a group of chaotic people who are disobedient to the resolutions of the international community and refuse to abide by the terms of international laws and conventions.

These measures bore fruit over time, as some Arabs became supportive of Israel and hostile to Palestinians, but these people remained a minority among the Arab nations.

An Egyptian border guard, known as Sulieman Khater, opened fire in the 1980s at a group of Israeli tourists from his military tower in Ras Burka, a tiny Sinai outpost near the border with Israel, killing seven. His act was officially condemned in Cairo, and an Egyptian court sentenced him to life in prison, saying that opening fire on the Israelis was “inconsistent with instructions and represented no duty.”

However, he was widely hailed a hero by Egyptians and across Arab nations, with people highlighting that he had not fallen victim to the false propaganda aimed at whitewashing the Israeli occupation and demonizing Palestinians and their resistance to it. He was considered a source of inspiration for Egyptians and Arabs who are aware of the brutality of the Israeli occupation.

In 1997, Ahmad Yousef Mustafa, a 22-year-old Jordanian soldier, opened fire at Israelis touring the River Jordan. He killed seven and wounded 15 others. The late King Hussein condemned the killing of the Israelis and expressed outrage. He travelled to Israel to offer his condolences to the Israeli families.

Later, Jordan paid compensation to the families of the Israelis killed by the Jordanian soldier, while he was handed a life term. Like Egypt’s Khater, Mustafa was seen as a source of inspiration for all Jordanians.

As soon as the late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was ousted, the Egyptian people stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo and burnt it. The Israeli staff of the embassy fled and did not return back until after the country’s first freely elected President, Mohamed Morsi, was toppled with the assistance of Israel and other authoritarian Arab regimes in 2013.

In Jordan, locals regularly gather in front of the Israeli embassy and call on the authorities to close it and dismiss the Israeli ambassador, describing Israel as a source of every evil in the kingdom.

Commenting on Mustafa’s killing of Israelis in 1997, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Violence … should be banished from our midst.” He failed, however, to link the event to Israel’s brutal murder campaigns against Palestinians.

Recently, Israel signed normalization agreements with a number of Arab countries and there have been exchanges of ambassadors with some. Their efforts have not changed the people’s perception of the occupation state and the people of the Arab World sent a clear message during last year’s World Cup in Qatar that Israel is not welcome in the region.

Despite all the attempts to hide the identity of the Egyptian policeman who killed three Israeli soldiers over the weekend, the Egyptian people and Arabs have been working hard to honour him. To downplay his actions, authorities insist he was running after drug smugglers and during the operation, he was killed along with the other Israeli soldiers.

However, people have taken to social media to praise him and compared his “heroism” to that of the Khater and Mustafa.

Israel knows that it will never be an integral part of the Middle East, so it is working hard to maintain the oppressive dictatorships that control its neighbouring countries in order to suppress their people and keep itself safe while it continues its war on Palestinians.

Motasem A. Dalloul is Middle East Monitor’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip