Change sweeping across the Middle East has prompted several Sunni Arab states to engage more closely with Israel. Shared strategic threats - the growing threat posed by Iran and its allies, the expanding threat of Sunni Jihadism, and US retrenchment - are key drivers, especially for Gulf states, whilst shared opportunities in energy and trade are also factors for Egypt and Jordan.
Former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem on Friday, September 30 was attended by world leaders past and present, including US President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton and Britain's Prince Charles.
Wilayat Sinai, an organisation identified with Islamic State, has recently suffered a series of serious blows from the Egyptian Army. Most prominent among them was the air strike in early August 2016 that killed dozens of senior commanders, launched as part of a targeted campaign against terrorism in Egypt in general, and in Sinai in particular. The recent decline in the intensity of Wilayat Sinai's attacks against the Egyptian army, alongside a drop in its media activity and propaganda systems, may point to cumulative damage to the organisation and a decline in its strength.
This Update features some background and analysis of Turkey's intervention in the Syrian civil war last week, in an operation termed "Euphrates Shield" launched last Wednesday, and aimed initially at the ISIS-held town of Jarablus - which Kurdish forces looked poised to take.
This weekend saw a visit to Israel by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. That may not ostensibly seem surprising given that Israel and Egypt have had full diplomatic relations for almost four decades, but in fact was a highly unusual step - the first such visit in nine years. As such it was a sign of the changing strategic environment and warming security ties between Jerusalem and Cairo - as the pieces in this Update discuss.
Last week brought news that Israel and Turkey are set to restore full diplomatic ties, ending the six-year impasse that followed Israel's interception of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has heralded the deal as "an agreement of strategic importance" that will improve stability in the region, but it may be too soon to start celebrating.
It's been a while, but ABC TV "7.30" on Wednesday witnessed the full-blown reappearance of Sophie McNeill the advocacy journalist, in a story entitled "Rafah border crossing opens to sick Gazans seeking medical treatment in Egypt."
The whole story was shallow and contradictory - and it was clear neither McNeill nor the show's producers were going to allow the facts to interfere with a narrative they wanted to tell. Despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about a rare opening by the Egyptian government of its shared border with Hamas-ruled Gaza, that theme was that the suffering in Gaza is Israel's fault and nobody else's - not Egypt's, not Hamas' and not the Palestinian Authority's. A veneer of balance was offered by speaking to an Israeli spokesperson, but the slant of the story was very clear.
The future of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is being called into question amidst further deterioration of the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula...
This is a concerning development for Israeli-Egyptian bilateral relations and Middle Eastern peace more broadly.
Having played a major role in sustaining the present Egyptian regime against political and economic challenges, the Saudis were now in a position to finalise the restoration of their sovereignty over the islands, control of which they had ceded to Egypt back in 1949 in the context of the latter's better ability to utilise them in the struggle with Israel - which has by now become irrelevant. Their legal case was apparently unassailable, and it was thus more a matter of when rather than whether they would actually assert their claim.
This came as no surprise to Israel.