The Israel-UAE-Bahrain Peace Agreements
Peace might come from the outside in: from an Arab world that encircles Israel with recognition and partnership rather than enmity, and which thereby shores up Israel’s security while moderating Palestinian behavior. (New York Times)
Reprinted from Daily Alert, September 17, 2020
- Peace. Shalom. Salaam – Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan
“Peace. Shalom. Salaam” was written in 2-foot-high letters in three languages on the side of the El Al aircraft that landed in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago. This message elevates opportunity and optimism over conflict and defeatism.
Non-Arab countries and a mob of non-state actors exist in a warped axis of perpetual resistance. They advocate one brand or another of extremism. They are nostalgic over lost empires or obsess over a new caliphate. The signing of the peace accord this week is a reminder that all the people of the Middle East are tired of conflict. The priority now is to continue to modernize our societies and to stabilize the broader region.
In the Emirates, we are committed to the true tenets of Islam – moderation, inclusion and peace. The Palestinian leadership should use this moment to reorganize its approach and prepare to re-engage in productive discussions. The writer is the United Arab Emirates minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation. (Wall Street Journal)
- Israel Has Become Too Valuable to the Arab World to Be Treated as a Pariah – Walter Russell Mead
A tipping point seems to have been reached in the Middle East. Resentment of Zionism and sympathy for the Palestinians will no longer be allowed to interfere with what embattled Arab rulers see as a vital relationship. Geopolitically, conservative Arab states have long understood that their interests and Israel’s are connected.
The more the U.S. withdraws from the region, the greater the value of Israel to the Sunni Arab world. Growing numbers of Arab leaders believe that Israel is the only country with both the will and the means to help the Arab world defend itself from regional threats. Beyond that, Israel is by any measure the most successful state in the Middle East with the most technologically advanced economy in the region.
The Arab rapprochement with Israel reflects a sober and serious response to realities that no Arab state can ignore. As a military and intelligence partner, as a diplomatic force multiplier, as a trading partner, as a source of investment and of development expertise, Israel is too valuable to the Arab world to be relegated to the status of a regional pariah. It has earned its place in the Middle East. The writer is professor of foreign affairs and the humanities at Bard College. (Wall Street Journal)
- A Rare Middle East Triumph – Bret Stephens
As consequential as the peace deals between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain is the Arab League’s refusal to condemn them. This is bad news for those Palestinian leaders and activists who think that they can somehow restore the status quo ante 1948, when Israel didn’t exist.
Peace between Israelis and Arabs will not come from the inside out – from a deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah that wins over the rest of the Arab world. Decades of diplomatic failure should put an end to that fantasy. Peace might come from the outside in: from an Arab world that encircles Israel with recognition and partnership rather than enmity, and which thereby shores up Israel’s security while moderating Palestinian behavior. (New York Times)
- UAE, Bahrain Normalization with Israel Is the Right Thing – Thomas L. Friedman
The normalization agreements signed Tuesday between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Israel and Bahrain are the right thing. Egypt and Jordan each made peace with Israel to end their state of war, but trade, tourism and mutual investments have been limited. Israel and the Emirates and Israel and Bahrain are normalizing their relations because they want trade, tourism and investment, and also intelligence-sharing against Iran. And Saudi Arabia has clearly blessed it all by allowing Israel’s El Al airlines to fly through Saudi airspace back and forth to Bahrain and the UAE.
You don’t see that every day. When the most technologically advanced and globalized Arab state, the UAE, decides to collaborate with the most technologically advanced and globalized non-Arab state in the region, Israel, I suspect new energies will get unlocked and new partnerships forged that should be good for both Arab-Israeli and Jewish-Muslim human-to-human relations. (New York Times)
- The Significance of the Israel-UAE Deal – Jon B. Alterman
The agreement between Israel and the UAE is more significant for the Arab world than it is for Israel. Israelis may derive a certain amount of emotional security from feeling less isolated in the region, and they may get some marginal advantages that they could not have obtained otherwise in their struggle with Iran. But this will radically change the way Arab states will deal with each other and their problems.
The Emiratis believe they have the strength and self-confidence to deal with any country in the world bilaterally, without 20 other countries standing behind them. I would expect other states to act more unilaterally going forward as well.
Arguably the Iranians will feel more surrounded when their adversaries are cooperating more closely, but in point of fact, the Emiratis were not about to start a war with Iran before, and they are not about to now. The writer is Director of the Middle East Program at the CSIS in Washington. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
- What Bahrain’s Deal with Israel Really Means – Charles Lipson
The deals to normalize relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain are significant for several reasons. First, they represent a common regional front against the Iranian threat. They also signal that Arab-Muslim regimes are less concerned with domestic, Islamist opposition to their outreach to Israel. Equally important, they show that the Palestinian Authority no longer holds a veto over fellow Muslims’ relations with Israel. This was seen last week when the Arab League refused to condemn the UAE for its accord with Israel.
What finally convinced the Arab states to come to the table was actually a shift in U.S. policy. The U.S. stopped seeking a “more balanced,” friendly relationship with Iran and a less supportive one with Saudi Arabia and Israel. It vocally opposed Iran’s mullahs and is determined to isolate them diplomatically, punish them economically, and block them strategically. Its policy to prevent them from building a nuclear weapon is not a joint agreement, but military deterrence and covert attacks on Iran’s nuclear program.
By pulling back from direct military engagement in the Middle East while promoting hardline opposition to Iran, the U.S. has forced all Arab-Muslim states in the region to choose between appeasing the mullahs or making a common front against them. The writer is Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Chicago. (Spectator)
- The Consequences of the Israel-UAE Peace – Shlomo Ben-Ami
The Middle East is changing, and the Arabs are accepting that Israel is a legitimate strategic player. The Palestinians, the supposed epicenter of the region’s worries, have become a disposable cause. The Palestinians must recognize that they have brought this situation on themselves by their serial rejection of peace offers in the past. How could they assume that the Arab states would forever mortgage their national interests to fulfill the Palestinians’ implausible expectations? The writer, a former Israeli foreign minister, is vice president of the Toledo International Center for Peace. (Project Syndicate )
- The Abraham Accord: Arab Farewell to Iran – Camelia Entekhabifard
The Abraham Accord with Israel – known in the region as the “Salam Accord” – is the result of the loss of hope by countries of the region for normal relations with Iran after 40 years of trying, and their disappointment in any change in the nature of the regime. Iran’s neighbors witnessed that there was indeed no difference between a conservative and a moderate president and that power is in fact in the hands of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the supreme leader who decide the country’s foreign policy. The writer is editor-in-chief of the Independent Persian. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
- The Importance of the Israel, UAE, Bahrain Deals Ceremony – Herb Keinon
The normalization accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain deserve to be celebrated in a ceremony. The way they realign the Middle East is something worth celebrating. Former State Department officials scoffed at Jared Kushner, an upstart without any diplomatic experience, for even trying. Yet here we are. Having normal relations with the wider Arab world is something Israelis have dreamed about for decades.
The ceremony at the White House is significant for the message it sends the Palestinians, the region, and the world. It tells the Palestinians that their strategy of trying to pressure Israel by isolating it, by casting it as an international leper, has failed. The event sends a message to the Iranians and the Turks that their designs for regional hegemony will be met by a firm wall of pragmatic Mideast states. It also tells other Arab and Muslim states that ties with Israel are acceptable.
The ceremony sends an important message to the world – long locked into the idea that peace will come only if the Palestinians get everything they ask for – that this need not be the case, and that significant progress can be made even if the Palestinians refuse to show any flexibility. The agreements signed on Tuesday are proof that different results are possible if different methods are tried. (Jerusalem Post)
- The United Arab Emirates Has Become a Force in the Middle East
The agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, announced on August 13, was hashed out quietly by spies and sheikhs and unveiled largely on Twitter. Though long overshadowed by Saudi Arabia, Prince Muhammad bin Zayed, the UAE’s de facto ruler, has turned his small country into arguably the most influential Arab state. Dubai is the region’s business hub. Emirati money and media have backed coups and intrigue across the Middle East.
A compact but capable army provides a sharper edge. The troops it sent to Yemen in 2015 were the most effective piece of a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis. Emirati drones propped up Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan warlord who tried last year to conquer Tripoli.
UAE priorities differ from some of its neighbors: more pragmatic towards Iran and more hostile towards political Islam. Optimists hope “the Dubai model” – good governance, a vibrant economy, an admirable emphasis on religious tolerance – will spread across the Middle East. (Economist-UK)