Relations Between UAE and Israel
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Topic: General Studies 2:
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
- India and its neighbourhood- relations
In News: In a joint statement released by the US, Israel and the UAE, the leaders of the three countries agreed to “the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates”, calling the agreement a “historic diplomatic breakthrough” that would “advance peace in the Middle East region”. The agreement that will be called the ‘Abraham Accord’ was brokered by US President Donald Trump.
The deal: the UAE will establish diplomatic relations with Israel in return for President Binyamin Netanyahu committing to give up a stated plan to annex the West Bank, the main territory of a state that the Palestinians want. The UAE becomes the third Arab nation to recognise Israel after Egypt (in 1979) and Jordan (1994).
- In the next few weeks, Israel and the UAE will sit to finalise bilateral ties and cover areas of investment, tourism, the establishment of direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, cultural exchange, environmental issues, and the establishment of embassies, in addition to other areas of cooperation.
- The joint statement mentioned that Israel and the UAE would also be “forging closer people-to-people relations”. Israel will “focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world”, and that the US and UAE would be assisting it in achieving that goal.
This move is significant because with the exception of Jordan and Egypt, Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab states owing to its long-standing conflict with Palestinians. Israel had signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994. However, despite the absence of official diplomatic relations, Israel has been engaging with its neighbours with regard to issues like trade.
The agreement comes after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to suspend plans to annex parts of the West Bank, one that had been bitterly criticised by these Gulf Arab states, Europe and a few other countries around the world.
What does it mean for the Middle East?
The situation in the Middle East is complex and some observers believe that domestic politics in Israel and the US may also have a little to do with this agreement. Several nations in the Middle East also have contentious relations with Iran and this improvement in relations between Israel and the UAE may be an attempt by the US and Israel to use the leverage to urge other Gulf Arab states to alienate Iran.
Netanyahu, who has been facing mass protests for weeks against his mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak, a drop in popularity in his country, and is on trial for corruption, may be banking on this agreement to revive his image. He does, however, risk alienating a significant portion of his voter-base who had supported his plans to annex the West Bank.
Within the region, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman publicly welcomed the Abraham Accord. Saudi Arabia has remained silent, though there is significant speculation among analysts that this nonreaction is a sign that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman supports the agreement but is constrained because his father, the king, opposes normalization with Israel. Iran, Qatar, and Turkey have all criticized the accord, with the latter threatening to withdraw its ambassador from Abu Dhabi. Civil society organizations throughout the region remain steadfast in their opposition to normalizing relations with Israel. These include groups in the Gulf, which have spoken out specifically against the Israeli-Emirati agreement.
The Palestinians: Despite the apparent Israeli promise of halting annexation, the Palestinian leadership rejected the accord and recalled its ambassador from Abu Dhabi. From the perspective of the Palestinians and their supporters, the agreement reflects bad faith on the part of Israel, the UAE, and the United States, since the Israelis and Emiratis had been normalizing ties even before the Abraham Accord.
For USA: With the US presidential elections around the corner, Trump may consider this agreement to be a foreign policy success.
India welcomes full normalisation of ties between UAE, Israel: Underlining that both are “key strategic partners” of India, India said that India has “consistently supported” peace, stability and development in West Asia. However, it also reaffirmed its traditional support for the Palestinian cause and hoped to see early resumption of direct negotiations to find an “acceptable, two-state solution.
Do You Know?
- Except with Jordan and Egypt, Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab states owing to its long-standing conflict with Palestinians
- Israel had signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994.
- However, despite the absence of official diplomatic relations, Israel has been engaging with its neighbours with regard to issues like trade.
Connecting the Dots:
- Abraham Accord
- How did Israel and the UAE get to normalising relations?
- Arab Spring
- USA’s West Asia Peace plan