|Netanyahu, Trump, and Zayed (Arab News)|
President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi closed the deal — to be known as the “Abraham Accords” — Thursday in a phone conversation. A joint statement issued by the three nations said the three leaders had “agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”
“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region,” the statement said.
Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other issues, the statement said…
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz have been deeply involved in the negotiations for the agreement, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
One of the most important benefits to emerge from this agreement will be the expansion and accelerated cooperation between Israel and the UAE on COVID-19 treatment and vaccine development, which is to take place immediately.
“Israel for the foreseeable future will be focused on building this relationship and pursuing all the advantages that can come from having this new relationship with this country, and we also breaks the ice for doing more normalizations and peace agreements with other regional players as well,” a White House official told Reuters.
The missing player in this achievement is Iran. They are probably as much responsibe for this achievement as the US is. But it is the US that closed the deal.
Why Iran? There is an ancient saying in the Arab world that in various ways goes something like this: ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Many Arab nations have changed their tune about Israel when they started seeing Iran as an existential threat. some of them started saying virtually the same thing about the dangers Iran Israel did.
When the Obama administration began making noises about that horrible nuclear deal Arab news outlets started publishing editorial that sounded like Netanyahu was writing it. I recall one editorial (I think it was in Al Jazeera) saying that then US President Obama should listen to Netanyahu about that deal. The UAE clearly on board with that thinking. Their relationship with Israel started warming about that time and has since become pretty friendly. But they couldn’t take that final leap to normalize relations. Kushner and his team apparently convinced them to do it.
It’s true that the UAE is a small country. But it is also a rich country with financial resources that could serve Israel (and the entire world) very well. What is more significant that this normalization with Israel is that it may be the catalyst for additional Arab states doing it. It is no secret that Barain and Saudi Arabia have warmed up relations with Israel too. I believe (or at least hope) it is just a matter of time.
Israel had to make some concession too. They have agreed to postpone annexation of any of their large cities that straddle or are just beyond the pre 67 borders. But that is a small price to pay. I’m not so sure they were going to do it anyway. And even though it was not taken off the table for a future annexation, Israel has agreed that it would not do so without US approval.
The big losers here - are the Palestinians. But only if they choose to be. More about that later.
It is interesting to note that all of laughter and derision expressed by so many so-called Middle East experts with lots of experience - said the the Trump administration’s Israeli/Palestinian Peace Plan is step backwards. That Palestinians would never accept it. And that the Middle East is now a more dangerous place than ever because of it. But that has not materialized. Just as it didn't when they predicted the same thing after the US embassy was moved to Jerusalem.
More importantly the American peace proposal is still on the table. I would not be surprised at all if the the more rational elements among Palestinians actually considered it - considering how much it would benefit them in material terms - as well as give them an actual state that Israel could live with.
The more Arab states that make peace with Israel, the less support Palestinians will get for holding on to their unrealistic version of a state. Some Arab states have already said that the Palestinians should give that plan a serious look instead of rejecting out of hand. Unfortunately, for the moment, the irrational rejectionist elements are still in control.
All in all, I think this is a tremendous achievement for the President and his ‘inept’ son in law. Although I am 100% convinced that Kushner will not lose that appellation one iota. His detractors have ‘massive anecdotal evidence’ of ' his ineptitude. They will surely find ways to not give him any credit for this – or – more likely describe this as no achievement at all.
Too bad that there is so much anti Trump bias on the part of some people. They are unable recognize a successful achievement that is right in front of them. One does not have to like the President nor vote for him in the next election to give him and his son in law credit when it is due. But I for one give them credit for this. Lots of it!