Israel formally established diplomatic relations with two kingdoms in the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, on Tuesday with the signing of agreements that open a Crack in the Arab consensus on how to move towards a Palestinian state and they reinforce the pressure on Iran.
US President Donald Trump led the signing ceremony of the historic Abraham Accords, negotiated with the mediation of the White House and with which the president hopes to generate a wave of new pacts between Israel and its Arab neighbors, in addition to winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
“A new Middle East”
“We are here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East“Trump said during the signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.
The act made the Emirates and Bahrain the third and fourth Arab countries, respectively, to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).
The decision of the Emirates, which announced its agreement with Israel on August 13, and of Bahrain, which made it public last Friday, raised criticism of the Palestinians, who accused both kingdoms of having broken the Arab consensus that consisted of isolating Israel until the occupation of their territories ends.
The Emirati Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, defended at the ceremony that the agreement does not mean abandoning the Palestinians, and that, on the contrary, it will allow his government to continue to “defend the Palestinian people” and it will even make it easier for them to achieve “an independent state within a stable region.”
The controversy of the Palestinians
The White House initially assured that, as part of its agreement with the UAE, Israel had promised to stop the annexation of occupied Palestinian territory, but the Israeli government immediately made it clear that this decision was only “temporary” and that the annexation of part of the occupied West Bank it is still “on the table”.
However, the Emirati minister also thanked Israel for “stopping the annexation of the Palestinian territories”, while his counterpart from Bahrain, Abdulatif bin Rashid al Zayani, trusted during the same ceremony that the “peace” they will generate in the region these agreements lead to a two-state solution.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was in charge of signing the agreements by Israel, and he predicted that the basis that these pacts have laid could, over time, “end once and for all the Arab-Israeli conflict” .
During a bilateral meeting with Netanyahu before the ceremony, Trump assured that his government is holding “very advanced” negotiations so that “five other Arab countries” also normalize their relations with Israel, and that it is in contact with the Palestinians.
For the moment, however, it seems unlikely that the United States will convince Saudi Arabia, the most powerful country in the region in geopolitical terms, to follow in the footsteps of the Emirates and Bahrain.
Increase the siege of Iran
In any case, the pact makes it likely that other Arab states will begin to reach their own agreements with Israel, something that also represents a setback for Iran, the main enemy of the Israeli government in the region.
“You have fiercely confronted the tyrants of Tehran,” Netanyahu celebrated, addressing Trump, before signing.
The Sunni Persian Gulf states have increased their antagonism with Iran’s Shiite leaders in recent years, and Trump has seen that trend as a perfect opportunity to try to join forces with Israel against Tehran.
The fine print of the agreements has not been made public, but according to The New York Times, it contains a commitment by the United States to sell F-35 fighters to the Emirates, to balance Emirati military capabilities with those of Israel in the region.
Netanyahu has denied that he has consented to that agreement, and when asked about it on Tuesday, Trump simply replied that differences on the subject will be “settled”.
Since they announced their deal August 13, Israel and the Emirates have already taken the first steps in normalizing their relations, from telephone calls to collaboration in medical and defense matters, to the arrival in Abu Dhabi at the end of August of the first commercial flight between the two countries.