The proposed agreement with the United Arab Emirates is important, and more importantly, symbolizes a trend. The delay in applying sovereignty is much less crucial, since Israel’s strategic needs are wider and immensely more important than its needs in the Palestinian arena, and also because in this arena, the agreement and this trend strengthen Israel’s negotiating position.
The willingness of the Gulf states to establish ties with Israel conveys the strength and reliability of the Jewish state in the eyes of the Arab nations; the timing shows the fear that an Obama-like administration in Washington will again endanger the Gulf states through its reconciliation towards Iran. In the 1950s and 1960s, Israel strived to free itself from isolation and the threat of its Arab surroundings with the “periphery alliance” with Iran and Turkey; today it works mainly with the Arab nations against the aggressiveness of both these non-Arab regional powers.
Beyond the diplomatic deed and the great potential for economic cooperation, this is a dramatic regional achievement. This breakthrough, with Egypt’s blessing and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s heartwarming rage, establishes the strategic axis of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Oman – and in other ways also Greece and Cyprus – against the radical regimes of Iran and Turkey.
All of its partners see not only Iran and its emissaries as enemies but also The Muslim Brotherhood and Erdogan as such. The UAE is fighting not only Iran and its emissaries in Yemen, but also Erdogan, the militias he brought to Libya and the Turkish military intervention, which supports the enemies of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on his western border. The Brotherhood directly endangers the Egyptian regime and the Jordanian regime. Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and Israel are gravely concerned with Erdogan’s attempt to establish Turkish hegemony in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea.
On a wide array of issues, the vital interests of Israel and the UAE are similar. They both have a justified reputation of determination and willingness to use force when threatened. Their capabilities complete each other: Israel has the power, the advanced and innovative technology and the UAE has the resources, the willingness to use advanced devices, and a strategic location. When its neighbors in the Gulf jump on board, the process will reach a point of critical mass.
The glee of the center-left and the mourning on the deep Right over the suspension of applying sovereignty is peculiar. The Center-Left is wrong for objecting to the annexation of the Jordan Valley since it allows for the security conditions to disengage Israel from most of the territories in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of a “state” that will have no territorial contiguity with the radical elements threatening Israel.
The deep Right is wrong because the agreement with the UAE harms the Palestinian negotiating position after it was devastated on the issues of Jerusalem, UNRWA and the Trump plan. The Palestinians are expected to thwart any plan in Judea and Samaria that any government in Israel can accept. Therefore, whatever hurts their ability to harm Israel is something that should be welcomed by all wings of the Israeli political map. The ignoring of Palestinian objection and the establishment of the joint axis with most Arab elements are described in Gaza, Ramallah and Ankara as a “stab in the back.”
To illustrate just how badly the Palestinian negotiating position has worsened, it’s worth mentioning an interview given by one of their senior representatives, Saeb Erekat, in 2009 to the Jordanian daily Ad-Dustour after they rejected Olmert’s offer in 2008.
Erekat admits that Olmert offered 100% of the West Bank territory with land swaps, but Abbas demanded that Israel recognize Palestinian sovereignty on the 1967 borders, and only then will the offer be discussed. He also demanded 140 billion dollars in reparations for refugees – not instead of, but in addition to “return” – and said that the PLO cannot give up on the right of every one of the millions of refugees and their offspring to return to Israel. And the main point: “In Camp David they offered 90% and (recently) they offered 100%, why should we rush?”
In that case, those significantly harmed are Iran’s stature, Erdogan’s hopes, and the illusions of the Palestinians. What more could one ask for?
- This commentary was published by Israel Hayom, on August 18, 2020