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Israel-UAE Agreement: A Breakthrough in Peace?

Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain signed an agreement in Washington on Tuesday to establish diplomatic relations. US President Trump, who acted as a mediator in this endeavor, said that from now on, peace will reign in the Middle East. The European press, however, is skeptical.

No wonder

According to the publication Polityka, this agreement only fixed what has long become a reality behind the scenes:

“These agreements did not fall from the sky. On the basis of a common confrontation with Iran, Israel has for many years maintained secret contacts with many states of the Persian Gulf, although officially there were no diplomatic relations between them. Israel, as it were, entered the Emirates through a kind of back door — opening in 2015 its office at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi. Then-Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque [in Abu Dhabi], followed by gold won by an Israeli athlete at the UAE Judo Tournament and an invitation to Israel to participate in Expo 2020 in Dubai.”

Do not indulge in excessive euphoria

According to Cesky Rozhlas, this agreement should not be given too much symbolic meaning:

“Both the Emirates and Bahrain are very different from Egypt and Jordan [with which Israel has a peace agreement]. These are small, wealthy countries far from Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. They do not border on Israel, they have no territorial disputes with Israel, and they have never been in a state of open war with it. For them, the fight against “Zionism” has always been rather just part of pan-Arab solidarity, and therefore it is easier for them to abandon this political program. At the same time, peace with these countries does not have such a powerful symbolic meaning as the agreement concluded by Israel with Egypt and Jordan. Not to mention how important such an agreement with Syria, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia would have.”

Palestinians bought time

In a comment for Deutschlandfunk, ARD Tel Aviv correspondent Benjamin Hammer notes that new opportunities are opening up for the Palestinians:

“It is possible that Israel was about to annex the occupied territories in the West Bank. The European Union could not convince Israel to refrain from this step. And in this case, the prospect of creating a sovereign Palestinian state would be practically buried. The Palestinians sensed betrayal. However, thanks to an agreement with the United Arab Emirates, Israel has pledged to abandon its annexation — at least temporarily. Thus, the time has been won, which means it is time to act. The Palestinian leadership needs to do something. It should itself put forward concrete proposals and negotiate.”

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