Deal between Israel and the UAE: a step towards peace?

The United Arab Emirates and Israel have established diplomatic relations. Until now any contact between the two states had taken place behind the scenes. The agreement to this effect was brokered by US President Trump and is due to be signed in Washington on 3 November. Journalists discuss what the deal means for the region.

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Ukrayinska Pravda (UA) /

Normalisation that could set a trend

Ukrayinska Pravda is optimistic that other Arab countries will establish diplomatic relations with Israel:

“There is great hope that the agreements could lead to other countries also recognising Israel. Given the dynamics of current relations, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could follow suit. ... The agreements reached so far have shown that the past does not necessarily determine the future. And also that reconciliation is possible even where it once seemed completely impossible.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Palestinians can no longer count on old allies

The power struggle with Iran is now the top priority in the Middle East - and not just for the UAE, writes The Irish Times:

“Other Gulf states, though perhaps not Saudi Arabia, are expected to follow suit in normalising relations with Israel, which have recently improved significantly. ... This reflects an ongoing regional reprioritisation by Arab Sunni-led states of their top strategic concerns. Iran, with its support for proxy armies throughout the region, and the Muslim Brotherhood now trump Israel's poor treatment of the Palestinians. ... A politically weakened Palestinian community is facing a paradigm shift ... It can no longer rely on old allies to put its case at the top of their agenda.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

Emirates acting without a coherent plan

Yeni Şafak says the UAE has forgotten who its natural allies are:

“By reaching a deal with Israel, the UAE has shown that it has not taken the Palestinians into account and has no interest in Arab geography. Saudi Arabia is pursuing a similar policy. ... These countries also pursue a problematic policy with regard to non-Arab Muslim geography. The two states, which played an active role in dragging Syria and Libya, two of the most important areas in the the Arab world, into civil war, have entered into partnerships with France, Israel and Russia to counter Turkey's efforts. ... They are not following either a national or a religious concept.”

Politiken (DK) /

Trump is the only one who really benefits

Politiken does not expect the agreement to bring any lasting changes in the Middle East:

“Israel was one of the big issues in Trump's foreign policy agenda. Trump's powerful son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, has been at the forefront of an effort to forge close ties with the country - but this has failed to produce a major breakthrough for peace in the Middle East. On the contrary: Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the American embassy to the city has provoked anger in the Arab world. In this context the announced agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates does not bring any major benefits in the Middle East. But it does give Trump a foreign policy advantage that he will use until the elections on November 3.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Deal offers advantages for both sides

Tages-Anzeiger sees grounds for cautious optimism:

“The deal outlined is realistic at its core, because unlike the so-called peace plan put forward by Trump in January, this time there's a quid pro quo for Israelis and Palestinians: the Israelis agree to suspend their much criticised annexation plans in the Palestinian territories, and in return they get a foot in the door of the Sunni Gulf states. The two also share a common interest: curbing Iranian ambitions in the region. The difficulties aren't just in the small print, however. There are plenty of radical elements on both sides that see any rapprochement as a form of treason and are ready to torpedo any progress. At the heart of the Middle East conflict is the open question of the establishment of a Palestinian state - and for that, Israel would have to make far more concessions.”

La Stampa (IT) /

The end of a dogma

The agreement could even be good for the Palestinians, La Stampa adds:

“Israel renounces the annexation of Judea and Samaria and recognises that they belong to the Arab-Sunni territories. ... Everything depends on the next steps taken by the protagonists - the Middle East is a graveyard full of peace plans. ... But the potential of the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is no less than that of the Oslo Accords of 1995. Oslo brought international recognition to Yasser Arafat and the PLO; the agreement between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi announced by Washington signifies the official recognition of Israel by the Arab world. It marks the end of the dogma of Israel's non-existence for the great majority of Arab countries.”