The threats posed by the Syrian Civil War, ISIS, and Iran’s regional influence have created an unprecedented alignment of interests between Israel and key Arab states. It would be a mistake to assume these mutual interests will remain in place indefinitely.


Nimrod Novik is the Israel Fellow for the Israel Policy Forum (IPF). In addition to Israeli security and political circles, Novik maintains close contacts with the Egyptian intelligence community; Jordanian security establishment; Palestinian political leadership and Saudi security experts, as well as with senior US, European, UN and other relevant officials dealing with Middle East policy.

Prior to that, for close to a decade he served as Advisor on Foreign Policy to Shimon Peres during his tenure as Prime Minister and Vice Premier. During those years he was involved in all foreign policy matters including negotiations with Arab leaders; negotiations with Moscow over Soviet Jewry, restoring bilateral relations and establishing intelligence cooperation, as well as Middle East policy, and with Beijing over establishing diplomatic relations. He thence served as a Special Ambassador of the State of Israel and an Advisor to the Israeli National Security Council.

Novik is a member of the board of CIS (Commanders for Israel’s Security); and the Board of Governors of the Peres Academic Center.

The Opportunity


Seizing the opportunity posed by Israel-Arab shared interests, and developing the kind of intelligence and security cooperation that could be essential to effectively fight the radical forces of ISIS and to promote regional security and stability, requires responsibly addressing the Israeli-Palestinian issue and preventing it from becoming a new source of regional unrest.


Already, Egypt and Jordan enjoy high levels of security and intelligence cooperation and coordination with Israel as a result of their respective peace treaties and shared border concerns. Egypt and Jordan have an interest in further deepening their close cooperation with Israel, but each must also respond to public sentiment. So long as the Palestinian issue risks sparking unrest and violence, cooperation with Israel will remain quiet and limited in nature.


Deeper intelligence cooperation and operational coordination with Arab states, along with new venues to discuss security-related misunderstandings and to peacefully resolve conflicts before they exacerbate, would provide additional mechanisms to improve domestic and cross-border stability.


An 'inside envelope' of cooperation, consisting of:
-Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian coordination to address security concerns in the West Bank
-Israeli, Palestinian, and Egyptian coordination to address security concerns in the Gaza Strip.


An ‘outer envelope’ of cooperation, that would be open to Arab states in the region - such as Saudi Arabia, its GCC partners, and possibly other states in North Africa and elsewhere - would provide Israel an opportunity to engage with the broader Arab world on a wider range of regional challenges.

The API as an Action Plan, not a Trophy

We believe that finding a solution will contribute to strengthening the security and stability of the region and will pull the rug from under the feet of extremism and terrorism in the region.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (June 2016)

Israel has never formally responded to the Arab Peace Initiative (API). The API, first introduced in 2002, and reendorsed by the Arab League subsequently, offers Israel normal relations following a comprehensive peace agreement. Today, it deserves a new look by Israel and the United States as a vehicle for Israel-Arab dialogue and Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

An agreement based on a land-for-peace formula with the Palestinians alone will not provide Israel with the security guarantees or regional integration that are necessary to forge a lasting, sustainable peace. Against this backdrop of regional unrest, and a weakened Palestinian leadership with an uncertain future, Israel – with the encouragement and support of the United States – should welcome the API as a basis for discussion, with the aim of transforming it from a trophy to be received after an Israeli-Palestinian agreement into an action plan that advances two parallel tracks: Israeli-Arab relations alongside advancements toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.

An Insider's Perspective - Brig. Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog:(click for link)

In February of 2017, retired IDF Brigadier General Michael Herzog provided an intimate account of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the Kerry Initiative of 2013 and 2014. The expose presents where progress had been made between the two sides, as well as the issues that proved insurmountable at the time. Herzog remains committed to a viable two-state solution:

Majorities on both sides want peace, yet neither believes the other side is ready. There are also strong domestic pressures constraining the leaders’ room to maneuver and to make the necessary historic compromises.

Lacking a willing and capable Palestinian partner, Israel should nevertheless seek regional and international partners (which it is likely to find), and apply some constructive unilateral measures in coordination with these partners (including ceasing settlement activity beyond the blocs)—all the while leaving the door open to a future negotiated settlement.

Overcoming these challenges requires exceptional leadership on all sides, determination, a sense of urgency, a well-prepared and orchestrated process, and an effective third-party role.

With the region around us in turmoil and uncertainty abounding about the role of the new U.S. Administration, it is time Israel moves to shape its own destiny rather than wait for others to do it.