Israel-UAE deal: a breakthrough for peace?
Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed an agreement establishing mutual diplomatic relations in Washington on Tuesday. US President Donald Trump, who brokered the deal, announced that this was the "dawn of a new Middle East". Europe's commentators are less convinced of the historic significance of the agreement.
Hardly a surprise
The agreement only confirms what had long been a reality behind the scenes, Polityka points out:
“These accords did not fall from the sky. Israel had maintained secret contacts with many Gulf states for years based on a mutual dislike of Iran, although officially no diplomatic relations existed. It entered the Emirates through the back door, so to speak, starting with the opening of an office at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi in 2015. That was followed by a visit by then culture minister Miri Regev to the Grand Mosque [in Abu Dhabi], an Israeli gold medal at a judo competition in the Emirates and an invitation to Expo 2020 in Dubai.”
Český rozhlas also has difficulties finding any particular symbolic value in this agreement:
“Both the Emirates and Bahrain are very different from Egypt and Jordan [the countries with which Israel has signed peace agreements]. They are small, rich countries, a long way away from Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. They are not neighbours of Israel, they have no territorial dispute with Israel, they have not been directly at war with Israel. For them, the fight against 'Zionism' has always been more a question of pan-Arab solidarity, and they find it easier to abandon this political programme. At the same time, making peace with them does not carry the same symbolic value for the whole region as Israel's agreement with Egypt and Jordan once did. Not to mention the importance that peace between Israel and Syria, Iraq or Saudi Arabia would have.”
The Palestinians have gained time
A new opportunity awaits the Palestinians, ARD's Tel Aviv correspondent Benjamin Hammer counters on Deutschlandfunk:
“Israel was perhaps on the verge of annexing parts of the occupied West Bank. The European Union would not have been able to stop Israel from doing so. A sovereign Palestinian state would have become impossible for ever. The Palestinians sense betrayal. But through the agreement with the United Arab Emirates, Israel has undertaken not to go ahead with annexation for the time being. At least this has bought time. Now it all depends on the Palestinian leadership finally becoming more active again. Making their own, more concrete proposals and negotiating.”
Political issues are secondary here
This treaty is different from previous agreements, La Repubblica notes:
“The images from Camp David (1978) and the signing of the treaty in Washington the following year between [Egyptian President] Anwar el-Sadat and [Israeli Prime Minister] Menachem Begin, in a solemn posture of respect and with a proud Jimmy Carter standing between them for the ritual photograph, are definitely history. As is the handshake between [Israeli Prime Minister] Yitzhak Rabin and [PLO leader] Yasser Arafat after the Oslo Accords were concluded (1993) on the lawn of the White House, with Bill Clinton looking on and smiling smugly. The current treaty is an agreement between Arab finances and Israeli technology. Between business and the intelligence agencies. An agreement in which political issues appear to be secondary. ... Starting with the Palestinian issue.”