Is the fantasy of a Middle East peace accord about to come true?

There are times in history when the confluence of events conspire to install a position that was once regarded as a fantasy. For years, from one presidency to the next, it was believed a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians could be achieved. Yet in every instance the best laid plans of diplomats became a chimera. At the risk of assuming the best, it now appears as if an understanding is achievable.

Egyptian officials have united Fatah and Hamas entities for political purpose, thereby setting the stage for negotiation without internal discord. Second, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has been the catalyst in bringing parties together. It would be an extraordinary feather in his cap if an accord were written. Moreover, it would enhance his reputation throughout the region, putting the Crown Prince on the side of moderation and liberalization.

Then, there are the terms. Up to this point the Hamas Charter calls for the decimation of Israel. But as Egyptian diplomats have pointed out, there is a willingness for Hamas and Fatah to recognize Israel as a Jewish state – for the first time in their collective past. Clearly this is a noteworthy development if true.

As noteworthy is the Saudi plan for “the right of return.” Arab doctrine includes the belief that those who were forced to leave Israel in 1948 should be allowed to return. However, as the Saudis note, the return does not necessarily mean to the place of origin. As a consequence, the Saudis propose to widen the map for refugees citing locations in Egypt to Saudi Arabia as potential homes.

Whether these conditions hold is impossible to predict, albeit previous negotiations did break down over Palestinian recalcitrance. Alas, that might happen again. What the plan does offer is hope for the future based on the new actors on the Middle East stage.

The third leg in this three-legged peace stool is a joint Saudi and Israeli effort to defeat Iran and Hezbollah and develop a plan to interrupt an imperial desire for a Shia Crescent. When an Iranian missile was fired into the Saudi capital, the Crown Prince realized a direct confrontation with Iran is inevitable. He also assessed his ability to defeat Iran in a land battle and concluded his forces do not measure up. However, with Israeli assistance a joint force might prevail. Hence the Crown Prince is developing joint military maneuvers with Israel as his key ally.

Whether these conditions hold is impossible to predict, albeit previous negotiations did break down over Palestinian recalcitrance.  Alas, that might happen again. What the plan does offer is hope for the future based on the new actors on the Middle East stage.

The Crown Prince is facing conditions at home – opposition to his plan for social and political liberalization – that warrant success in regional stabilization. President Sisi of Egypt has made it clear he and his government oppose terrorist activity, most noteworthy being Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism. This is even more true following Friday’s horrific attack on a Sinai mosque.

Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel realizes the favorable conditions on the ground may not be duplicated again. He cannot miss this opportunity. He also recognizes the tectonic changes in the Sunni world and those implications for Israel’s role in the Middle East.

President Trump has played his diplomatic hand very cleverly. He has given the Crown Prince the leverage to negotiate terms without imposing a U.S. agenda. He has sought support from Netanyahu without forcing the Israeli hand. And most significantly, these discussions have occurred under the radar and beyond tweets.

In a world where there is confusion and tocsin in the air, it is refreshing to conceive of a positive development in the Middle East. Of course, this may turn into a dismal failure when the bargaining begins, but for the moment high hope prevails.

Dr. Herb London is president of the London Center for Policy Research and is co-author with Jed Babbin of "The BDS War Against Israel."