On March 31, nine days before the polls open throughout Israel for the April 9 general elections, Arab leaders are scheduled to convene for their annual summit in Tunis. The summit’s strategic implications for Israel’s future could be just as crucial, and perhaps more so, than those of the elections to the 21st Knesset. The Arab world will once again open its doors to Syrian participation in its leadership. After shunning President Bashar al-Assad for eight years, Syria was invited to participate at the summit. Assad’s rehabilitation points to the hypocrisy of the Arab world in granting instant clemency to mass murderers.
The man who heads Israel’s government and is the ruling Likud Party’s candidate to lead the next government, too, is of the opinion that in the Middle East “the weak do not survive.” As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session in October 2016, “With the strong ones you forge alliances. Only with the strong one, do you make peace." The neighbors — leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States — apparently understand Netanyahu’s language. They, too, know the weak do not survive. They, too, “make peace” with the “strong” side. In their case, they do peace with the Syrian regime that massacres women and children using chemical weapons and aerial bombings. They, too, like Israel, want to be strong vis-a-vis Iran and company, and to curb its influence in Syria.