Israel-United Arab Emirates, sign of “new state of mind” in the Middle East

Donald Trump announced on Thursday a “historic peace agreement” between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This proximity, the result of tripartite negotiations, divides on the international stage but also at the regional level. The cards can be shuffled in the Middle East. France 24 takes stock.

The agreement announced on Thursday, August 13, between Israel and the United Arab Emirates has been hailed as the beginning of a “new era” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Emirates became the third country to normalize its relations with the Hebrew state after Egypt (with the Camp David Accords in 1978) and Jordan (1994).

An announcement that has been received internationally in various ways. Europe welcomes this agreement, especially France and the United Kingdom. On the contrary, the Palestinian Authority sees it as “a betrayal of Jerusalem and of the Palestinian cause”, as are Turkey and Iran.

  • Complete normalization of relationships

The joint press release The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates speak of a “complete normalization of relations” between the Hebrew state and the Emirates.

It is also specified that “delegations (from both countries) will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements on investment, tourism, direct aviation, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, health, culture, environment, establishment of mutual embassies or other areas (present) mutual benefits “.

“This agreement testifies to a new state of mind at the regional level,” explains David Rigoulet-Roze, a lecturer and researcher at the French Institute for Strategic Analysis (IFAS) and editor-in-chief of the journal Orients Stratégiques (L ‘Harmattan), contacted by France 24. “It is the concretization of links, more or less discreet relations in recent years, but deepened between Israel and the petromonarchies, whether with the United Arab Emirates, or with Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. “

  • “Discreet” relations between Israel and the Emirates before the deal

While this agreement may seem surprising, especially given the positions of Israel and the Emirates on the Palestinian issue, the two countries have worked behind the scenes for this rapprochement. “It was a discreet diplomacy job, because we had not seen this normalization agreement between the two countries coming,” explains Armelle Charrier, international columnist at France 24.

But this work has not begun recently, as David Rigoulet-Roze explains: “Discreet relations have been established in recent years with the petromonarchies in general and the United Arab Emirates in particular, especially in the face of what is perceived as an Iranian threat.”

A low-key relationship that the emirates have, however, made increasingly visible in their rapprochement with Israel. “At the end of 2018, two Israeli ministers – Ayoub Kara, Minister of Telecommunicationsand Miri Regev, Minister of Culture and Sports – made a trip to Abu Dhabi which, in addition to their area of ​​competence, obviously had a political dimension. On May 20, the first direct flight from the Emirati company Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, intended to provide medical assistance to Palestinians in connection with the Covid pandemic, “said IFAS teacher researcher.” That is the skill of Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, who wants this rapprochement with Israel without being taxed abolition of the Palestinian cause and who tries to show the maintenance of this matter, even if there are concrete contradictions. This theft would show that the petromonarchy did not forget the Palestinians, despite the fact that there was also a deepening of relations with Israel. “

  • “Fuzzy” on the issue of appendices in the West Bank

Following the announcement of the agreement on Thursday, one point remains, and not least, unresolved: the Israeli plan to annex Palestinian territories in the West Bank. Interpretations differ on this subject.

In the eyes of the Emirates, in exchange for this agreement, Israel agreed to “put an end to the continued annexation of the Palestinian territories”. But Benjamin Netanyahu softened this statement, believing that this annexation had been “postponed” but that Israel “has not given up”. “I brought peace, I will be annexed,” he even explained.

“There is a kind of agreement on language elements when we talk about a ‘temporary break’ regarding this annex which was originally planned for 1your July and that was not effective, “explains David Rigoulet-Roze.” There is a certain vagueness that remains, of which the elements of language constitute the reflection. The term “temporary pause” finally suits both parties because it allows them to maintain their position without making a final decision, whether it is Benjamin Netanyahu who says it is a postponement and not a cancellation, or whether it is Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan who explains in a tweet that the agreement means that there will be no further annexation. “

  • Trump “has been behind this affair for a long time”

Donald Trump, who was at the forefront of announcing this merger, will also benefit from it. “He speaks in a presidential campaign and he has an interest in showing good results,” explains France’s 24 columnist Armelle Charrier. In addition, the US president has “pursued this agreement for a long time”, according to David Rigoulet-Roze: “On January 28, he presented the famous” part of the century “which would be a peace project between Israelis and Palestinians. present: there were the emirates, Bahrain and Oman.The Israel-Emirates Agreement has an increasingly important interest: within the framework of its re-election strategy, as it is in great difficulty on the stage interior – with the failure to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and a terrible economic situation – this would be a way of consolidating its electorate, which consists of the hard Christian core evangelist who has a very close relationship with Israel. “

Finally, this agreement is beneficial in several ways to Israel, whether domestic or regional. Riccardo Bocco, professor of political sociology invited to France on Thursday night, explains that this rapprochement with the Emirates takes place in a context where “the Prime Minister has never been so opposed to his own electoral base and to the Israeli middle class”. This agreement will also benefit him at the “international strategic level, namely his fight against Iran”, according to the specialist. “The alliance with the Emirates is (from this point of view) extremely important, which is also in the interest of the United States. It is a redistribution of the cards in the Arab world, especially in the Gulf.”