President Trump made a historic announcement Thursday, August 13: Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed to “the full normalization of relations.” Israel will cease annexation efforts of the area claimed by Palestinians, and the UAE formally recognized and will work with Israel. It’s beginning to look like peace in the Middle East. That’s good news for Israel, the UAE, and the U.S., but not everyone is happy about it.
The agreement was reached during a call between President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE. President Trump tweeted the joint statement from the three nations. It states, in part:
“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, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit. Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations.”
You Can’t Please Everyone
This historic deal bridges an old diplomatic chasm that many thought could never be crossed. But for the Palestinians, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. They have long relied on Arab support in their struggle against Israel. In the Arab world, only Egypt and Jordan already had active diplomatic ties with Israel. Having another of the wealthiest Muslim nations in the Middle East join them is certainly a blow to the Palestinians. On the other hand, the deal includes an end to Israel’s annexation efforts.
“The UAE has come out in the open on its secret dealings/normalization with Israel,” a senior Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, said on Twitter. “Please don’t do us a favor. We are nobody’s fig leaf!” Fig leaf comment aside, the end of actual fighting greatly decreases the risk to Palestinian and Israeli lives, and it does so immediately. While it may not bode well for an independent Palestine, it does mean an end to the death and displacement of Palestinians.
The American left can’t be taking this well, either. They have long vilified Israel and opposed all efforts toward peaceful dealings with the nation – especially moving the embassy to Jerusalem. Many Democrat politicians have openly supported Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), the Palestinian-led anti-Israel movement.
Good News for Trump
But there’s another reason for Democrats and the left in general to oppose this deal: It looks really good on Trump. There’s no hiding the fact that the American president played a huge part in creating this deal. That fact is woven throughout the official joint statement, which concludes with:
“Prime Minister Netanyahu and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan express their deep appreciation to President Trump for his dedication to peace in the region and to the pragmatic and unique approach he has taken to achieve it.”
As well, the joined statement explains that “Israel and the United Arab Emirates will join with the United States to launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation.” This deal gives Trump plenty of political points going into the November election.
Is This Just the Beginning?
As historic a moment as this is, could it be the harbinger of so much more? President Trump prides himself on being a master at crafting and negotiating deals. “Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim counties will follow the United Arab Emirates,” he said. And he’s probably right. The UAE is a big player in the region, and if this is seen as the beginning of a trend in the Arab world, then the race is on.
Read more from James Fite.