The Trump administration has announced a new and historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In an official joint statement, the Trump administration revealed, “President Donald J. Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates spoke today and agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
“The historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement.”
This development is both historic and encouraging.
The Middle East has been one of the most contentious pieces of real estate in history, with Israel/Palestine, and more specifically Jerusalem, being the center of much of it. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, tensions in the region increased exponentially as the Arab countries rejected a Jewish State in the region.
Only a handful of Arab countries have official diplomatic relations with Israel, including only Egypt, Jordan and now the UAE.
A normalization of relations gives the country another potential ally in a region full of enemies and hostile states.
Due to the cultural, religious and historical tensions with the Israelis, citizens with Israeli passports are unable to enter Muslim majority states like Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Until this new agreement, the UAE had the same restriction, though businessmen with foreign passports have been given leniency. In addition, eight of these countries, including Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya, don’t even permit individuals that have an Israeli visa in their passport to enter the country.
For this to change with at least one country is a huge step forward and will perhaps bring some peace and stability to the region.
In the joint statement, the administration expanded on what this change entails, “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 establishments of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit. Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economics will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations.”
As part of the agreement, Israel agrees to suspend its planned annexation of the Palestinian West Bank, a territory that has been held by Israel since the Six-Day War.
This change in relations is partly the result of the UAE’s growing role as an international tourist and business destination, and a declining support for the Palestinians due to the group’s close relations with Iran, a country that supports terrorism and proxy wars in the region as part of its quest for power.
In a rare moment of bipartisan support during an election year, presidential candidate Joe Biden praised the announcement, stating, “I personally spent time with leaders of both Israel and the UAE during our administration building the case for cooperation and broader engagement and the benefits it could deliver to both nations, and I am gratified by today’s announcement. It is a timely reminder that enmities and differences — even long-standing ones — are not set in stone, and of the role American diplomacy can play.”
In a press conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu shared his optimism, “Today we usher in a new era of peace between Israel and the Arab world. There is a good chance we will soon see more Arab countries joining this expanding circle of peace.”
Photo from The White House on Flickr