Israel and UAE to Normalise Relations

A surprise statement by the American President yesterday revealed that Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed to normalise relations. As part of the agreement, Israel will suspend its plans to extend sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.

Israel has not previously had diplomatic relations with any of the Arab countries around the Persian Gulf, but common concerns over Iran’s plans are now prompting co-operation.

US Press Conference on Israel-UAE dealScreenshot of US Press Conference on the Israel-UAE agreement

According to the joint statement issued by the USA, Israel and the UAE, this agreement will pave the way for a Strategic Middle East Agenda to ‘expand diplomatic, trade and security cooperation’ in the region. The document says:

‘Along with the US, Israel and the UAE share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities
in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement,
increased economic integration, and closer security coordination.’

Israel’s Prime Minister broadcast a statement to the nation on Thursday saying that the agreement will usher in a “new era” in relations with the Arab world. The “full and official peace” with the UAE would lead to co-operation in many spheres between the countries and a “wonderful future” for citizens of both countries.

In exchange for the agreement, he has agreed to “put on ice” plans to apply sovereignty in parts of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley; but he qualified that statement by saying there was “no change” to his goal of extending sovereignty, the delay is “temporary.”

The Palestinians have described it as an act of betrayal by the UAE and seem to have found strong support from Turkey, whose Foreign Ministry said:

“While betraying the Palestinian cause to serve its narrow interests, the UAE is trying to present this
as a kind of act of self-sacrifice for Palestine. History and the conscience of the people
living in the region will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behaviour.”

Jared Kushner, senior advisor at the White House, described the Palestinians’ rejection of the deal as:

“a fairly predictable response that we`ve seen time and time again.”

He went on to say we should expect another Arab state to join the agreement “in the coming days”.

Relishing the announcement to a news conference of this American foreign policy success, Donald Trump described it as a “huge breakthrough” and added:

“I see ultimately the Palestinians, I see peace between Israel and the Palestinians
– I see that happening.”

Now we wait to see which other Gulf countries might join the deal and what the longer-term reactions will be from Turkey and Iran.