Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Photo by Shealah Craighead
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a press conference announcing the Trump Middle East Peace Plan on Jan. 28, 2020, in the East Room of the White House.

{Reposted from The Lid}

President Trump has announced a peace agreement between the UAE and Israel. He released a joint statement issued by the three nations (below) saying they “agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” and Israel agreed to suspend declaring sovereignty in Judea and Samaria (commonly known as the West Bank).  This deal could only have been negotiated with the involvement of this president, Donald Trump.


Obviously, this deal could have never happened under the previous administration. Obama’s hatred of Israel and Jews resulted in an Israeli mistrust of anything Obama. His deal with Iran and the lack of follow-through of his threats to Syria resulted in the Gulf States’ lack of trust in the Obama administration.

The Trump administration thought outside of the box to make this deal. The supposed peace experts of previous administrations had always bloviated that no Arab country would ever formalize ties with Israel before a Palestinian state was created.  Trump created an outline of a deal, and the Palestinians refused to participate in its development.

Trump correctly figured out that the moderate Arab States were tiring of the Palestinians refusal to try to make peace.  Thus, the UAE peace deal was ripe for negotiating. Well, it’s sort of a peace agreement because the two countries were not at war, but it is still a big deal as Israel, and the UAE have never had normalized relations, trade, diplomats, etc.

The UAE is only the third Muslim country in the area to have relations with Israel (the other two being Egypt and Jordan). Unlike other agreements, this one is not “land for peace,” it’s peace for peace.

As expected, the Palestinians are shocked and angry, but they dug their own hole with their refusal to participate when Team Trump was creating their outline for peace announced at the end of January 2020.

White House officials said Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz were deeply involved in negotiating the deal, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien.

Why did the agreement happen?

  • The leaders of both countries, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Bibi Netanyahu, are close to President Trump on a personal basis.
  • The two strongest technology economies in the region trade will help both.
  • UAE not at war with Iran. However, there are disputes about who owns some of the islands in the Persian Gulf. They are nervous about nuclear Iran AND Iran-funded Hezbollah. President Trump’s policy of pressuring Iran has convinced UAE that the U.S. is serious about controlling Iran’s terrorist and nuclear ambitions.
  • Having an ally of the U.S. and Israel so close to Iran will put more pressure on the rogue regime.
  • Israel and UAE have been dealing with each other using back-channels.
  • This deal provides a foundation for further advances toward regional peace in the future. Israel understands this, and just as importantly, other moderate Gulf states understand this.  Bahrain welcomed the UAE-Israel, saying that it boosted prospects for peace in the Middle East. “This historic step will contribute to strengthening stability and peace in the region.” They will probably be the next country to make peace with Israel. Then again, in an unusual move, when Qatar was awarded the next World Cup tournament, they said that Israel would be welcome to send its team to the competition.
  • UAE can say they stopped Israel from “annexing” Judea and Samaria, even though it’s a temporary move. The memo issued by the three parties says, “Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.” Notice it says suspend—not abandon. In fact, when Netanyahu spoke to Israel, he said that both Trump and he reiterated their commitment to the Trump peace plan announced earlier in the year. That plan calls on Israel maintaining control of Judea and Samaria.
  • President Trump has been working on Arab/Israeli deals since he visited Saudi Arabia in May 2017.

In a conference call with reporters today, Jared Kushner said, “There is a good chance that another country could make a deal with Israel in the coming days.” He also said (jokingly?) that there were other Gulf states upset that they were first. On the same call, Ambassador David Friedman said, “In the diplomatic world, there is no higher echelon than peace.” Ambassador Friedman also stated that this deal “does not in any way require Israel to cancel the idea of Israeli sovereignty (over parts of Judea and Samaria, or the West Bank, and the Jordan Valley) but to suspend it. It is very difficult to go down these two roads at once. We prioritize peace above everything else. It is a suspension, not a cancellation of the sovereignty issue. It is just a question of what you feel to be the most important, and I think that we can all agree that peace is above all else.”

Below is the Joint announcement of the normalization agreement;

Joint Statement of the United States, the State of Israel, and the United Arab Emirates

President Donald J. Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates spoke today and agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement.

Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.  Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations.

As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal.

The United Arab Emirates and Israel will immediately expand and accelerate cooperation regarding the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. Working together, these efforts will help save Muslim, Jewish, and Christian lives throughout the region.

This normalization of relations and peaceful diplomacy will bring together two of America’s most reliable and capable regional partners.  Israel and the United Arab Emirates will join with the United States to launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation.  Along with the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement, increased economic integration, and closer security coordination.  Today’s agreement will lead to better lives for the peoples of the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and the region.

The United States and Israel recall with gratitude the appearance of the United Arab Emirates at the White House reception held on January 28, 2020, at which President Trump presented his Vision for Peace, and express their appreciation for United Arab Emirates’ related supportive statements. The parties will continue their efforts in this regard to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As set forth in the Vision for Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan express their deep appreciation to President Trump for his dedication to peace in the region and to the pragmatic and unique approach he has taken to achieve it.

Israel has agreed to suspend West Bank annexation plans in exchange for the normalization of ties with the UAE, according to a joint statement from Israel, the UAE, and the U.S. released by U.S. President Donald Trump.

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Jeff Dunetz blogs at Yid with Lid