Netanyahu Heads to Washington to Ink Landmark Peace Deal

September 14, 2020

by: Ilse Strauss

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US President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu

Monday, 14 September 2020 | An Israeli peace delegation headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took off for Washington late last night to ink a landmark peace deal with not one but two Gulf states: former foes Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

As the delegation made their way past the flags of Israel and the US flying proudly next to that of the UAE and Bahrain on the steps of the waiting El Al plane—aptly named “Petah Tikva” (Door of Hope) and inscribed with the word “Peace” in English, Hebrew and Arabic—the atmosphere was electric with expectation.

“As Israel’s longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has made many trips abroad, but maybe none as big as this one,” Owen Alterman, senior international affairs correspondent for i24News, summed up the situation.

After 72 years of cold shoulders, shunned overtures and a scant two of Israel’s Arab nations recognizing the Jewish state’s right to exist in land-for-peace agreements, the tide seems to have turned. In less than a month, both the UAE and Bahrain agreed to normalize ties with the Jewish state—first the UAE on August 13 and then Bahrain on Friday—in what Netanyahu hailed as a peace-for-peace deal.

In short, the back-to-back agreements—and the speculation of more Arab nations following suit—doesn’t merely mean a few more much-needed allies in Israel’s corner. It marks a dramatic shift in attitude towards Israel in pockets of the Arab world and ushers in a new era of opportunity for Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, Manama and hopefully the rest of the troubled Middle East.

The exact terms of the agreements have not been released yet, with the final i’s being dotted and t’s crossed before the Netanyahu will put pen to paper alongside the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain for the formal signing ceremony on the south lawn of the White House tomorrow.

Speaking during a televised address ahead of the trip last night, Netanyahu lauded the US-brokered Abraham Accords as “historic.”

“We now have two historic peace agreements with two Arab countries within one month,” the prime minister said. “I am sure that we all praise this new age.”

“This is going to be a different peace,” Netanyahu vowed in an apparent reference to the various failed attempts at securing a land-for-peace agreement with the Palestinians. “It will be a warm peace, an economic peace in addition to a diplomatic peace, a peace between nations.”

In the countdown to the official signing ceremony, international and Hebrew media speculate that Morocco, Oman and Sudan may be next to join the widening circle of Middle East peace. Of the three, Oman seems a particularly promising prospect after the Sultanate publicly welcomed the Israeli–Bahrain deal.

Not everyone is equally excited about peace and prosperity in the Middle East though. Resenting being left out in the cold after decades of shunning Israel’s peace overtures, the Palestinians are crying foul. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, the terror organization ruling the Gaza Strip, issued a joint statement calling on their people protest the “shameful” declarations with a “day of popular rejection” on Sunday.

Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror and Hamas’s terror overlord, joined the Palestinians’ chorus of outrage, slamming Bahrain as “partners to the crimes of the Zionist regime as a constant threat to the security of the region and the world of Islam.”

Yet the nod for the most ludicrous disapproval undoubtedly goes to Turkey. In a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, Ankara decried Manama’s efforts to establish ties with Jerusalem, conveniently forgetting the formal diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey.

It is clear that the status quo that has set the tone for the Middle East over the past century is fast dissolving. As Iran’s chilling ambition for regional hegemony grow and fester, past adversaries are reassessing alliances and forging new strategic partnerships.

It will be interesting the see how the shifting sands settle over the next months.

Posted on September 14, 2020

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

Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO/Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs/