Jews are bent on disregarding the Arab mentality. Arabs care about appearances more than facts. They cannot lose their public image. Regarding the Saudi peace initiative, there is no way that Muslims would compromise on Jerusalem or on the refugees’ right of return.

Most Arab governments genuinely want peace with Israel. The conflict, dragging on for decades, irritates them. They want to show their subjects an important security achievement. They submit to American pressure. They tested a newcomer with bullying, found him respectably strong, and accepted him as a neighbor. Most of all, they are afraid of Israel. All Muslim states with the odd exception of Mali are totalitarian. Large-scale defeats often topple such regimes. Locals lack the will and the resources to oppose dictators, but once a major defeat shatters the army, they jump on the bandwagon and finish off the government. Egypt and Syria care little about Israeli bombing raids, but Israeli troops in Cairo or Damascus are their nightmare because the invasion will precipitate a change of regime.

The story of Tunbs islands is instructive: in a bitter dispute over the three irrelevant islands, Sharjah (now UAE) refused to give way to Iran, but asked through the British to be evicted. Submission to force is not shaming in the Arab world view.

Israel can negotiate over Jerusalem and refugees ad infinitum with no chance of success. The Arabs will, however, agree to make the Jerusalem and refugee provisions hollow. Israel, for example, can expand Jerusalem’s borders to include Arab villages and give Palestinians half of that “Greater Jerusalem”, essentially a rural area. The Temple Mount can be transferred to an international body and leased to Israel. Refugees, likewise, could be allowed to return – subject to almost impossible proof of their earlier residence in Israeli territory. In the peace process, any face-saving excuse will do for Arab governments.

Israel made similarly hollow promises regarding the Palestinians in the Camp David agreement. That worked for some time, but eventually the Arabs and Western moralists pressed Israel to observe the agreement and allow a Palestinian state. Israel can connive with Arab governments now to fool their subjects, sign a peace treaty and enjoy peace for some time. The refugee problem will eventually go away, but the issue of Jerusalem, specifically of the Temple Mount, will remain.

The pragmatic and cowardly Arabs readily give way to force. They demand Jerusalem now only because Israel seems to concede. If, however, Israel flatly refuses negotiations, removes any Muslim presence from the Jewish Temple’s site, and bans Muslims from Jerusalem – the issue will go away. Create a situation where the Arab states can do nothing and they can retract honorably. Then the Arab dictators will shrug their shoulders and could well sign peace with Israel.