Israeli Cooperation with Arab Countries
Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979, marking the end of 30 years of relentless hostility and five costly wars. The treaty was preceded by Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat's visit to Jerusalem (1977), at the invitation of Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin, as well as the signing of the Camp David Accords (1978) which constituted a basis for peace between Egypt and Israel and between Israel and its other neighbors. The accords also addressed the need to solve the Palestinian issue, following a five-year interim phase of autonomy for the Palestinian Arab residents of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip. President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their achievement.
The peace implemented between Israel and Egypt consists of several major elements, including the termination of the state of war as well as acts or threats of belligerency, hostility or violence; the establishment of diplomatic, economic and cultural ties; the removal of barriers to trade and freedom of movement; and withdrawal by Israel from the Sinai peninsula, with agreed security arrangements and limited force zones. Israel completed its withdrawal from the Sinai (1982) according to the terms of the treaty, giving up strategic military bases and other assets in exchange for peace.
Although Egypt was ostracized by other Arab states following the signing of the treaty, most have since reestablished relations with Egypt and reopened their embassies in Cairo. The headquarters of the Arab League, which had been transferred to Tunis, were reinstated in Cairo in the early 1980s.
Having to overcome 30 years of distrust and hostility, normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt is a long and arduous process. Yet, embassies and consulates have been established by both countries, and meetings between government ministers and high-ranking officials take place regularly.
In 2004, Egypt and Israel signed a Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) Agreement under which jointly produced goods enter the U.S. market duty free as part of the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement. As a result of the QIZ, Israeli exports to Egypt grew 110% in 2005.
Following the outbreak of Palestinian violence (September 2000), relations cooled considerably and Egypt recalled its ambassador, who later returned. Even during the tense period, cooperation continued in agriculture, and the joint military committee met regularly. As the Palestinian War wound down in 2005, Egypt’s trade with Israel picked up, and was expected to rise 130 per cent as a result of a U.S.-brokered agreement that created an estimated 15,000 Egyptian jobs. Egyptian-Israeli trade will rise from $58 million in 2004 to a projected $134 million in 2005. The volume is small — Egypt’s global exports are worth about $12 billion a year, Israel’s are about $30 billion — but the growth in trade is a positive development in the relationship. Still, Israeli investment in Egypt remains stagnant, largely because of lingering distrust and political sentiment.
2005, Israel signed an agreement to
buy 1.7 billion cubic feet of Egyptian
natural gas for an estimated $2.5 billion
over 15 years, fulfilling a commitment
made in an addendum to the peace
In 2005, Israel signed an agreement to buy 1.7 billion cubic feet of Egyptian natural gas for an estimated $2.5 billion over 15 years, fulfilling a commitment made in an addendum to the peace treaty.
The peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, signed at the Aqaba-Eilat border crossing (October 1994), was preceded by a meeting of King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Washington three months earlier when the two leaders proclaimed an end to the state of war between their countries.
Although de facto at war with each other for 46 years, Israel and Jordan had maintained secret contacts and concluded mutually beneficial agreements throughout that entire period. The 1991 Madrid Conference led to public bilateral talks, culminating in a formal treaty (1994) in which both countries have undertaken to refrain from acts of belligerency, to ensure that no threats of violence to the other will originate within their territory, to endeavor to prevent terrorism and act together to achieve security and cooperation in the Middle East by replacing military preparedness with confidence-building measures. Other provisions include agreed allocations from existing water resources, freedom of passage for nationals of both countries, efforts to alleviate the refugee problem and cooperation in the development of the Jordan Rift Valley. The international boundary delineated in the treaty has replaced the 1949 cease-fire lines and is delimited with reference to the British Mandate boundary (1922-48).
With the ratification of the peace treaty, full diplomatic relations were established and, since then, the relationship between Israel and Jordan has been moving forward steadily.
The basis for implementation of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was established with the signing and ratification of 15 bilateral agreements in economic, scientific and cultural spheres. These treaties are to serve as the foundation of peaceful relations between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The most significant expression of the peaceful relations is QIZ. (Qualifying Industrial Zones) which enables Jordan, via cooperation with Israel, to export to the U.S. quota-free and tariff-free commodities worth some $200 million. Israel is also cooperating with Jordan in two agricultural projects and in public health.
King Abdullah II, who succeeded his father in March 1999, visited Israel in April 2000. Following the outbreak of Palestinian violence (September 2000) in the territories, relations with Jordan cooled and Jordan recalled its ambassador.
In June 2003, King Abdullah II hosted a summit in Aqaba with President Bush and with Prime Ministers Sharon and Abu-Mazen. In April 2004, King Abdullah II visited Prime Minister Sharon at his residence in the Negev.
A joint Israeli-Jordanian exercise to practice responding to pollution in the Red Sea was staged on November 22, 2004, in the Eilat-Aqaba Bay. Israel sent 14 ships, members of the water-pollution-unit in Eilat, and workers of the Environment Ministry to participate.
In 2005, bilateral cooperation increased as officials met to discuss a variety of issues including cooperation in fighting the spread of bird flu. Jordanian exports to Israel grew and Jordan’s ambassador returned to Israel after a five-year absence to protest Israel’s policies in the territories.
Initiated in different ways at various levels, relations between Morocco and Israel were formalized when Israel opened a liaison office (November 1994) in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. Four months later, Morocco opened its office in Israel, thus formally establishing bilateral diplomatic relations.
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Israel concluded an agreement at the Barcelona Conference (November 1995), in the presence of the Spanish foreign minister, to establish interest sections in the Spanish embassies in Tel Aviv and Nouakchott, respectively. Mauritania opened its diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv (May 1996) and indicated its wish to fully normalize relations with Israel.
In October 1999, Mauritania became the third Arab country (after Egypt and Jordan) to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.
Following a timetable worked out by Israel, Tunisia and the United States (January 1996), Israel opened an interest office in Tunisia (April 1996), and Tunisia reciprocated six weeks later (May 1996).
Diplomatic relations with the moderate Maghreb countries are important because of the role that these countries play in the Arab world, and also because of Israel's large population of North African emigrés who retain an emotional attachment to the countries where their families lived for many centuries. This affinity is an asset which may lead to more profound relationshipsand make a practical contribution to the peace process.
After the outbreak of Palestinian violence (September 2000), Morocco and Tunisia broke off diplomatic ties with Israel. Nevertheless, some commercial relations continue, as well as contacts in other fields.