image Photo: Flash90, Reuters

Israel-UAE accord faces regional opposition

The Director General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat decried Israel’s emerging peace accord with the United Arab Emirates as a blatant attempt to alter existing policy regarding the Jewish State and effectively eliminating Palestinian aspirations for statehood from the Arab perspective.

“The whole thing that we based our strategy on as Arabs, is that the Arab Peace Initiative specified that once Israel withdraws, there will be peace between Arabs and Israelis,” said Erekat at his office in the West Bank city of Jericho. He wen on to accuse the UAE of green-lighting an initiative by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner, U.S. Advisor on Israel Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman “to change the formula” in order to achieve “Arab recognition of Israel while they (Israel) continue(s) with the ‘Occupation.’”

Dozens of demonstrations erupted in Palestinian towns and cities to condemn the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE as a ‘shameful stab in the back.’ Activists at a small protest atop of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount attempted to burn a poster in which Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed was branded a ‘traitor.’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to tout the paradigm shift in all that pertains to normalizing relations with the Jewish State. During televised remarks he stated, “This doctrine stands in complete contradiction to the concept that held, up until a few days ago, that no Arab country would agree to make an official and open peace with Israel before a conclusion was achieved in the conflict with the Palestinians.”

Netanyahu underscored that, “In the Palestinians’ view, and in the view of many in the world who agreed with them, it would be impossible to achieve this peace with our capitulating to the Palestinians’ demand – including the uprooting of communities, the division of Jerusalem and a withdrawal to the 1967 lines.”

The Israeli Prime Minister also highlighted that Israel’s steadfast approach toward Iran’s malign activities throughout the region served as a key trigger for the Arab world’s interest to normalize relations with Jerusalem.

“This peace was not achieved because Israel weakened itself by withdrawing to the 1967 lines. It was achieved because Israel strengthened itself by cultivating a free economy, military and technological strength – and by combining these two strengths – to achieve unprecedented international influence. This strong international position found expression in our willingness to take a stand against Iran’s aggression in the region and its efforts to attain nuclear weapons. The fact that we stood alone – and sometimes I had to stand alone against the whole world against Iran and the dangerous nuclear agreement with it – this made a major impression on Arab leaders in the region,” he said.

Netanyahu further insisted that the peace accord with the United Arab Emirates would inevitably draw additional Arab states to normalize relations with the Jewish State – which, as a consequence, would ultimately bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.  He asserted, “I am of the view that peace would be achieved in the opposite fashion. Expanding reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world is likely to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. I added that in order to achieve this peace, we do not only have to gaze at Jerusalem and Ramallah – but at Cairo, Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and other places as well. This was not a prophecy. This was the persistent and systematic policy that I led and which took years to trickle down. Thank God, it has indeed trickled down. I see additional countries joining the circle of peace with us. This historic change will also advance peace with the Arab world and, in the end, peace, true peace, monitored, secure, with the Palestinians as well.”

Senior Israeli officials informed TV7 that they expect Bahrain and Oman to soon follow in the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates.

Kushner, considered as the primary architect of Washington’s regional peace initiative, stated his belief that “there are other countries that are very interested in moving forward. And, as that progresses I do think it is an inevitability that Saudi Arabia and Israel will have fully normalized relations and they will be able to do a lot of great things together.”

Expanding on this, the White House Senior Advisor said, “my sense with Saudi Arabia is, they have two different populations there. They have their younger population there that wants to see partnership with Israel. They are interested in economy, vision 2030, technology, they want better lives. They see Israel as almost the Silicon Valley of the Middle East and they want to be connected to it as a trading partner, as a technology partner, as a security partner. Then you have the older generation there that is still stuck in conflicts of the past, and I think people will watch to see how this goes there.”

The vast majority of the international community including regional actors such as Egypt, Bahrain and Oman have congratulated Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi for normalizing relations. Two countries that stood out by condemning the accord are the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey.

“The move against Palestine is not a step that can be swallowed,” threatened Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He said that Ankara may follow Palestine, which “is either closing or withdrawing its Embassy,” by either “suspending diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi leadership or pulling back our Ambassador because we stand with the Palestinian people.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a scathing accusation that the UAE “made a huge mistake and committed a treacherous act.” He said that Tehran is “warning” Abu Dhabi not to “invite Israel into this region – they will have a different agenda then, you may be treated in a different way as you have until now.” The Emirates, said the Iranian leader, “think that if they bring themselves closer to the United States or the Zionist regime, their security will be ensured and their economy will grow – and this is completely wrong.”