Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Israel seals agreement with the UAE, Bahrain in the White House

The leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will meet in Washington on Tuesday with Donald Trump to seal the normalization of their relations.

Historic day for Israel. The Hebrew state will sign on Tuesday, September 15, the White House’s historic agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain that break the balance in the Middle East and that Donald Trump expects to present as a “peacemaker” for seven weeks of the US presidential election.

The US President held a big fanfare ceremony in Washington during which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally had to establish diplomatic relations between his country and these two Arab countries – the first breakthrough since the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994.

>> Reading: Israel-Bahrain: from discreet contacts to normalization of relations, the most important steps

A historic handshake between the Israeli leader and the Arab representatives is not ruled out, said a senior US official, emphasizing that all participants have previously been tested for coronavirus.

The Emirates and Bahrain share with Israel a common enemy against Iran, which is also Washington’s main enemy in the region.

Many Arab oil states have been quietly cultivating ties with Israeli authorities for several years, but this normalization offers rich opportunities, especially economic ones, for those countries trying to undo the coronavirus crisis.

A “stick in the back”

“It is a first-class achievement,” said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank, emphasizing that it “does not involve the same risk-taking” for Israelis accepted by Menahem. Start “when he left Sinai” for Egypt, or Yitzhak Rabin, when he agreed to negotiate with the Palestinian Yasser Arafat.

The “vision for peace” presented earlier this year by Donald Trump, which aimed to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all, is far from successful: the Palestinian Authority rejected it in a block and denies the US president the very role of mediator because he chained the decisions that were favorable to Israel.

>> To read: Normalizing relations with Israel: “Saudi Arabia cooperates with Abu Dhabi”

The current Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh also estimated that Tuesday would be a “dark day” in the history of the Arab world, of which he criticized the “fractures” and “divisions”.

The Palestinians, who condemn a “backing” on behalf of these countries accused of concluding a pact with the Jewish state without waiting for the birth of a Palestinian state, demanded demonstrations on Tuesday.

But the Trump administration has always said it wants to shake the region deeper by bringing Israel and the Arab world closer together in a kind of holy union against Iran. These agreements outline this time change and seem to move the Palestinian issue to the background, as the White House hoped.

Strategic success for Netanyahu and diplomatic success for Trump

According to David Makovsky, “this is no longer Dad’s Middle East, it’s a new region” where the Arab League, extraordinarily in fact, refused to condemn the decision of the two Gulf monarchies. “The Palestinians will wait to see what happens in the US election, but once the dust settles, they will have to reconsider their position,” the former US diplomat said.

These agreements are a victory for Benjamin Netanyahu and for Israel closer to its goal of acceptance in the region.

For Donald Trump, who is seeking a second term and has so far made some diplomatic progress to present to voters, it is a recognized success even among his Democratic opponents.

>> To read: The Israel-Emirates agreement, a sign of a “new state of mind” in the Middle East

Since the announcement on August 13 of the Israeli-Emirati agreement, followed last week by that of Bahrain, the Republican billionaire’s camp does not spare superlatives to praise his action, worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

But differences have already emerged in the terms of the agreement with Emirates. In the eyes of the Gulf states, Israel has agreed to “put a stop to the continued annexation of the Palestinian territories.” But the Israeli prime minister told him he had “not given up” on annexing large parts of the occupied West Bank, only “postponed.”

Similarly, Benjamin Netanyahu said he opposed, in order to preserve his country’s military superiority in the region, the sale to the Emirates of US F-35 stealth fighter jets that Abu Dhabi wanted to acquire.

With AFP

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