One of the world's largest pan-Arab newspapers on Tuesday printed an article written by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, in which the veteran politician calls for the Arab world to join Israel in a commitment to regional peace and cooperation.
The op-ed, entitled "An Open Letter to the Arab World," was printed in Asharq Alawsat, a Saudi-owned daily considered one of the most respected and influential media outlets in the Arab world. In the piece, Ayalon calls on the Arab world to help Israel defeat the shared enemies of religious extremism and climate change, with specific emphasis on Iran and the terrorist groups it patronizes.
"For the first time in many years, we find ourselves on the same side in seeking to quell and defeat the forces of extremism and destruction in our region," Ayalon writes, adding that Iran is "aiming for hegemonic control of the Middle East and far beyond."
Ayalon further calls for the Arab world to help Israel defeat the Iranian threat, specifically the Islamic Republic's burgeoning nuclear weapons program, saying "if Iran is able to attain nuclear weapons, the situation becomes inexplicably and inexorably worse. The Iranian regime has demonstrated that it feels unrestricted in its ability to dominate our region, a nuclear umbrella will only embolden its acolytes to act unrestrained to the detriment of us all. Only together can we face this threat and remove it."
Ayalon also calls on the Arab world to work with Israel in combating the growing threat of climate change in the wake of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen held last week.
Ayalon offers Israel's expertise in battling desertification and other ecological threats, arguing that only working together can Jews and Arabs in the Middle East combat the environmental challenges they face.
Contacted by The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Ashley Perry, the media adviser for the deputy foreign minister's office, said that the op-ed was written because "for the first time in history, Israel and the Arab nations are actually on the same side on many issues," citing the growing threat of Iran and the dangers posed by climate change.
Perry called the op-ed "unprecedented," saying "usually, Israelis speak to the Western media about what the Arabs should do, and the Arabs speak to their media about what the Israelis should do. This is completely different; this is an Israeli politician writing in Arabic directly to the Arab world."
Furthermore, Perry said the message of the op-ed is different, in that Ayalon isn't talking about the existence of Israel being based on the Holocaust or Jewish suffering, shifting the focus to the legal, historic and national rights of Jews to a state in Israel.
Perry added that Israel has taken great strides towards peace since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, while "we've gone a long way in what we're prepared to do for peace, but the Arabs are still committed to their maximalist positions. This is a historic moment and it's time to take advantage of it. If the Arabs want peace, it's time they meet us halfway," Perry said.