After several military defeats, the largest and strongest Arab state, Egypt, signed a historic peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The defection of Egypt from the anti-Israel Arab alliance largely neutralized the option of a large-scale conventional attack on Israel, improving Israel’s overall strategic position.
Yet Cairo refrained from developing normal relations with the Jewish state. A “cold peace” evolved, underscoring the countries’ common strategic interests but also the reluctance of Egypt to participate in reconciling the two peoples.
Jordan followed suit in 1994, largely emulating the Egyptian precedent. Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel also reflected common strategic interests – but was commonly referred to by Jordanians as the “King’s peace,” indicating a disinclination for people-to-people interactions with the Jews west of the Jordan River.
The inhibitions in the Arab world against accepting Israel should not be a surprise. Muslims seem to have good theological reasons for rejecting the existence of a Jewish state. Moreover, the education system in the Arab countries has inculcated anti-Semitic messages and hatred toward Israel for decades. Unfortunately, the dissemination of negative images of Jews and Israel has hardly changed in Arab schools and media.
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