In a rather surprising development, the UAE has established full diplomatic relations with Israel, making it the first Gulf Arab country. It would probably be a matter of time before other Arab countries also normalise ties after years of the discreet meetings.
The deal called the ‘Abraham Agreement’ was presumably brokered by President Donald Trump who called it historic and a breakthrough towards Middle East peace. Israel has supposedly delayed plan to annex West Bank in return for recognition but the deal will be a huge setback for the Palestinian cause.
Muslim leaders were taken by surprise as Israel had no ties with Gulf Arab countries until now although they shared mutual concerns over arch-rival Iran. Egypt and Jordan have already recognized Israel before. The UAE has defended the decision and termed it as ‘badly needed realism’. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince said the decision reflects a realistic approach by the Emirates.
While the accord is being welcomed by UAE’s allies and other Gulf Arab nations, it is being harshly criticized by other stakeholders such as Iran and Turkey. Iran has termed recognition of Israeli occupation to stabbing the Palestinian cause, while Turkey has said history will never forgive UAE for narrow interests and complicity with Israel. Once again the Muslim world is divided than ever before.
The Palestinian cause has been pushed aside ever since Donald Trump became president and a two-state solution is a distant dream. The USA brought the much-touted ‘Deal of the Century’ which promised huge investment at the cost of forgoing the occupied territories. The UAE is unconcerned and has said the deal is a win for diplomacy and the region.
The next step for both countries will be to establish full diplomatic relations, exchange embassies, trade ties and other diverse cooperation. The normalization of ties is seen as a huge step forward in Arab-Israel relations but questions remain whether it will lead to comprehensive peace as the Palestinian issue will be pushed once again on the backburner.
Palestinians and non-Arab Muslim countries will be certainly frustrated after this decision. Pakistan will be in a difficult situation whether to back its Arab allies over the decision or remain committed to the Palestinian cause. It is certain that Palestinian’s hope for a free, independent state have been shattered.