NEWS

Israel and the UAE—The Road to Peace?

August 14, 2020

by: Cheryl Hauer

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US President Trump announced the full normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE.

Friday, 14 August 2020 | The global community was rocked Thursday afternoon by the revelation of a historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Brokered by the United States, the announcement came in the form of a joint statement signed by US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and UAE Deputy Supreme Commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.

According to the statement, Israel and the UAE have agreed to full normalization of relations between the two countries, opening direct ties between “two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies.”

It is expected that representatives from Israel and the UAE will meet in the very near future to sign bilateral deals regarding various areas of mutual benefit, including the establishment of reciprocal embassies, investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, health care, culture and the environment.

The agreement makes the UAE only the third Arab country in history to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. The first was Egypt, which signed a landmark peace agreement in 1979, and the second Jordan, which signed a treaty in 1994. All three agreements have been brokered by the US, and all parties involved anticipate that other Arab nations will follow the lead of the UAE.

According to President Trump’s Oval Office address, the effort was led by his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, calling it a labor of love. It is being titled the “Abraham Accord,” and Twitter was alive with expressions of admiration among the parties.

“Who would have ever dreamed there would be a peace agreement with an Arab country without our returning to the 1967 borders,” Netanyahu said. “Israel and UAE are two of the most advanced countries in the world and together we can transform the region.”

The UAE’s ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, called the deal “a win for diplomacy and for the region,” as he praised all the parties for their courage and vision. He added, “It is a significant advance in Arab–Israeli relations that lowers tension and creates new energy for positive change.”

Kushner was quick to give kudos to the US president, stating that Trump had “urged [the team] to take an untraditional approach. The president tries to unite people, focusing on common interest as opposed to common grievances.”

Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, tweeted: “A great day for peace! Israel commends the courage of MBZ for the historic decision of the UAE to join Egypt and Jordan in making peace with Israel. Israel deeply appreciates all President Trump has done to make this breakthrough possible. More to come!”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Israel and the UAE for the achievement, which is “a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East. Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov [congratulations in Arabic and Hebrew, respectively]!”

A senior Likud official praised the deal, declaring, “This is the first time in history that Prime Minister Netanyahu broke the paradigm of ‘land for peace’ and brought instead ‘peace in exchange for peace.’”

Amidst all of the back-slapping, however, there were those who were much less enthusiastic. Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi condemned the deal, saying the UAE had “come out in the open on its secret dealings/normalization with Israel,” telling Prince Mohammed, “May you never be sold out by your ‘friends.’”

Palestinian TV reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called an urgent meeting of his top leadership to hammer out a response.

A spokesperson for Hamas, the terror organization ruling the Gaza Strip, called the agreement a free reward to the “occupation for its crimes and violations against the Palestinian people.”

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash, however, stated firmly the ongoing commitment of the UAE to the future of a Palestinian state and the concerns of the Palestinian people, declaring that the UAE embassy in Israel will not be in Jerusalem until final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are a reality.

David Elhayani, head of the Israeli umbrella group Yesha, representing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, reacted strongly to Netanyahu’s agreement as part of the deal to suspend extension of Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. He accused Netanyahu of betraying some of his most loyal political supporters. “He has deceived half a million residents of the area and hundreds of thousands of voters,” Elhayani said.

Netanyahu, however, was careful to state he had “delayed” the annexation plans, not abandoned them. “Those plans remain on the table,” he stated.

The reaction of the nations is yet to be seen, as is the influence this bold move may have on the political standings of Trump and Netanyahu. Regardless, let’s hope the journey begun on Thursday leads to peace and stability in a region in desperate need of both. That’s not just good for them, it’s good for all of us.

Posted on August 14, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 14, 2020)

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com