Yesterday afternoon Israeli news reported that Benjamin Netanyahu left an important coronavirus meeting in order to attend to what he called “a national emergency”. Given the political climate here in Israel, there was a collective eyeroll, assuming there was no real national emergency. However, a few hours later, news emerged that President Trump had brokered a peace deal between The United Arab Emirates and Israel.
This is the third peace agreement between Israel and an Arab country. The first was in 1979 with Egypt and the other was in the mid 90’s with Jordan. We have not had a peace deal with another Arab nation then. And all reports suggest that within the coming days a deal with Bahrain will be finalized—and several more Arab nations to follow. One of the most amazing aspects of this deal is that it had nothing to do with a Palestinian state. But Israel did pay a price, as you will see in a minute.
There are many facets to this peace deal!
My first thought when I heard the news was that the leaders in Iran are going to go nuts. Even as their economy is crumbling and coronavirus is rampant, they are still determined to destroy Israel. A Muslim majority nation like the UAE making a peace deal with Israel is treason to the Muslim world in the eyes of Iran. They wasted no time in condemning the Emirates for this “treacherous” move with the “evil Zionist entity,” known as Israel, even seeming to threaten the Gulf State.
This from Iran’s Tasnim new agency which supports the radical Islamic regime: “UAE’s new approach for normalizing ties w/fake, criminal #Israel doesn’t maintain peace & security, but serves ongoing Zionists’ crimes. Abu Dhabi behavior has no justification, turning back on the Palestine cause. W/ that strategic mistake, #UAE will be engulfed in Zionism fire.
UAE’s new approach for normalizing ties w/fake, criminal #Israel doesn’t maintain peace & security, but serves ongoing Zionists’ crimes. Abu Dhabi behavior has no justification, turning back on the Palestine cause. W/ that strategic mistake, #UAE will be engulfed in Zionism fire. pic.twitter.com/NDNy94laa8 — H.amirabdollahian (@Amirabdolahian) August 13, 2020
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden quickly sought to downplay President Trump’s victory and even take credit for this historic news. He said:
“the coming together of Israel and Arab states builds on the efforts of multiple administrations to foster a broader Arab-Israeli opening, including the efforts of the Obama-Biden administration to build on the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Of course, this is nothing but political spin. President Obama was quick to make clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that he was not your typical US President when it comes to Israeli US relationships. Their relationship was cold for the entire eight years. Obama acted like Israel was the thorn in the Middle East, and Iran was just reacting to that. The Obama/Clinton/Biden trio made peace with Iran a priority over Israel and the more pragmatic Arab countries (even if they are stuck in the Stone Age in regard to civil rights) such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. President Trump canceled the Iran deal and strengthened relationships with Iran’s enemies. This diplomatic breakthrough never would have happened under a Biden Administration.
While Netanyahu wins big on the world stage, some of his natural allies are quite angry with him. It’s not that they don’t want peace with Arab countries, they do. But at would price? Netanyahu had to agree to stop efforts to annex the Jordan River Valley. This is a very big deal to the Yemina (means ‘Right’) party and many in Netanyahu’s own Likud party.
Benny Gantz’s Blue and White and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, both applauded the breakthrough, while the Yemina’s Naftali Bennett condemned Netanyahu for letting go of “once-in-a-century opportunity” to annex large parts of the West Bank, as he had promised in the past three election cycles.
A Clever Ruse
Netanyahu, always the savvy politician, probably only pushed the Jordan Valley annexation plan in order to motivate the United Arab Emirates and other moderate Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel. Whether you agree with it or not, politically it was brilliant. Instead of having to give something that was real (like a Palestinian terror state), he gave up something that never was going to happen. If you want to know the truth, I think that all the talk of annexation was a clever ruse between Trump, Bibi and several Arab heads of state. The Arabs could not make peace with Israel without claiming to have achieved something big. So they came up with a fake annexation plan that the Arabs could take credit for quashing. This is my conspiracy theory—we will see. And, when the UAE announced it, they led with stopping Israel from annexing land.
During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories. The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship. — محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) August 13, 2020
If other Arab states follow suit, as Netanyahu is saying, it will do much to repair his sagging support in Israeli polls. Over the past few months he has lost about 20% of his support. But this is some very good news in a difficult time.
Palestinians are livid. They see this as a betrayal from the United Arab Emirates. However, the Emirates are more concerned with what they can get out of this relationship with Israel then they are with Palestinian politics. Both Israel and UAE are economic powerhouses, even if small, when speaking of startups and technology. But for decades, instead of seeking to build an autonomous community on these same principles, the Palestinians have been stuck in terrorism mode.
The Holocaust denying president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, called it a “despicable betrayal.”
This is a much-needed diplomatic coup for the US president, as he is sagging in the polls. It shows him as active wow Joe Biden is portrayed as “hiding in his basement”. Let’s not forget Trump’s accomplishment internationally. He defeated ISIS, he brokered a deal between the Turks and the Kurds in Syria, that has saved many lives and he is putting the pressure on Iran, which many believe could be on the verge of collapse. He would do well to highlight these accomplishments and remind people of the disastrous eight years of weak foreign policy from “O-Biden”.
Make no mistake, this is huge for President Trump.
“Speaking to reporters after his own announcement, Trump suggested that more diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and its Muslim neighbors in the region were expected. ‘Things are happening that I can’t talk about,’ the US president said.” (timesofisrael.com)