Evolving Israel-UAE bonhomie!

The West Asian regional politics is taking a new turn as both United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel recently resolved to normalize their bi-lateral relations. This began upon Israeli indication to halt the scheduled annexation of the parts of West Bank territory that PM Netanyahu had earlier declared, thereby prompting other Arab nations to follow the suit. As it obtains that the recently concluded agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates called Abraham Accord may result into forging a good understanding between the two countries in West Asia. But that has turned Palestinians aghast who may react with more macabre violence and terror acts to make the turbulent region suffer with more instability and insecurity therein and also beyond. Notwithstanding the apparent Israeli promise of halting the proposed annexation, the Palestinian leadership has strongly rejected the accord and recalled its ambassador from Abu Dhabi. The Palestinians consider it a breach of faith collectively committed by Israel, the UAE, and the US. Indeed, the Palestine’s criticism against the agreement is not unwarranted as Israel has not shown any interest in negotiating with the Palestinians and, instead, has again tightened its grip on the West Bank. To add fuel to fire, the Trump administration has already shifted the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has almost stopped its financial assistance to the Palestine, apart from presenting a peace plan, which stands refuted by the Palestinians due to being entirely unjust to their expectations and inalienable right to self-determination.

While the agreement includes diverse areas of cooperation and business relation, like tourism, direct flights, scientific and technological cooperation and possibly full diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, the UAE is yet to establish its embassy in the Israeli city of Jerusalem. An important component of the agreement is enhanced security cooperation against regional threats, especially from Iran and its proxies. As it looks that the UAE has, perhaps, initiated its masterstroke to establish its supremacy and leadership in the turbulent region by bringing both the belligerents – Palestine and Israel – to negotiating table to close their decades-long fierce bloodshed for home land. At the same time the UAE won’t sacrifice its national interests at the altar of a corrupt and unwise leadership in Palestine. Perhaps that motivated Israel towards the UAE in its bid to maintain effective presence in the region vis-à-vis rising international support to the Palestinian demand for an independent homeland.

This is why, Jerusalem had already established its diplomatic office in Abu Dhabi in 2015, followed by senior Israeli official visits to consolidate their newly forged relations with the UAE. Carrying the momentum, the Israeli athletes had participated in the regional athletic competitions in the UAE besides preparing to participate in World Expo 2020 at Dubai, now rescheduled to October 2021. All these positive developments possibly prompted the two prominent regional partners towards entering into the agreement when Israel indeed cancelled its earlier announced plan to annex the parts of the West Bank territory commencing on July 1. Consequently, the UAE took this opportunity to fully normalize its relations with Israel, as per reports. A prominent stakeholder in the region the US, while sympathizing with the strong Israeli sentiments to widen its formal diplomatic relations with Arab nations in the Middle East, particularly the Persian Gulf, and seizing the opportunity offered by the UAE, came forward to supervise the three-way diplomacy that witnessed the coming out of the Abraham Accord.

While the agreement has been concluded by the both opponents, the onward course for them in their respective states is quite difficult to smoothly go through. This is why the Israeli officials have used the word “suspend” in the accord with a view to appease the pro-annexation political groups and factions, which have already criticized the Israeli agreement. Similarly the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed-bin Zayed clearly felt compelled to demonstrate that normal relations with the country were not cost-free for the Israelis. As a matter of fact, the difference in language represents a kind of politics that each country’s leader confronts and that perhaps mars the true spirit of the agreement to a considerable extent as that may result into grave internal crisis not only into these two states but also the entire West Asian region. As expected, the region is divided over the agreement wherein while regional members like Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Oman have publicly welcomed the Abraham Accord with possibility of Morocco and Sudan following the suit, the other faction consisting of Iran, Qatar, and Turkey have vehemently opposed the same, thereby signaling likely restlessness and insecurity therein. In the same way, the civil society organizations throughout the region remain firm to oppose this agreement with Israel, including the anti-accord groups in the Gulf. As regards Saudi Arabia, though it has maintained a cautious silence, but that indicates its tacit support to the agreement despite his father, the king, opposing the normalization process with Israel.

In this scenario, any expectation of new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is quite farfetched. Perhaps West Asia may not witness the desired peace and security and perhaps may not be able to mitigate intra-region fierce infightings and fratricidal wars continuing for the long past, which have already converted it a boiling cauldron. The best option is that all regional partners must rise above their narrow and selfish interests to help-contribute in founding peace and security in the entire region for their own progress and prosperity. Also the outside powers must not interfere into the region that they have been doing for the long past to make the matter worse because the region is blessed with huge deposits of natural oil and gas. Indeed, these natural resources still sustain the economy of most of the countries in the world by carrying out their rising demands of energy security for running their industries and other domestic and commercial productions.

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