Friends With Caveats

Will Israel and the Gulf States Form a United Front Against Iran?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, in Oman in 2018 Israeli Prime Minister's Office / REUTERS

Something is brewing between Israel and its Arab Gulf neighbors, at least if public diplomacy is any indication. When Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, traveled to a conference in Washington last month, he publicly met, shook hands, and stood for a photo with his counterpart from Bahrain, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. Earlier in July, Katz had flown to Abu Dhabi to take part in a UN conference, while Yossi Cohen, director of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, claimed that Israel had received approval to open a diplomatic mission in Oman. The Omani government, which took the unusual step of playing host to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year, halfheartedly denied the announcement, but there is little doubt that some form of rapprochement is under way behind the scenes.

Not long ago, such a thaw in Arab-Israeli relations would have been unthinkable, and many view the recent flurry

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