(August 21, 2020 / JNS) Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said he believes that the deal to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates is a “paradigm shift” in the Middle East that could lead major breakthroughs in tourism, business and innovation between Israel and the Arab world.
This deal is “the first time that you’ve broken through this paradigm that has existed for several decades,” he said in an interview with Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver as part of a podcast series hosted by the Tikvah Fund.
“The paradigm says that the road to peace with any Arab state goes through Ramallah and must go through Ramallah,” he noted, adding that senior U.S. officials, both Democrats and Republicans, for years would say that “if you make peace with the Palestinians, you’ll get 22 Arab states to make peace with you.”
“The prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] would say, well, that would be great if the Palestinians wanted to make peace with us, but what if the Palestinians don’t want to make peace, then are we giving a veto to the Palestinian leadership over Israel’s relations with the Arab world,” Dermer said.
But with the new peace deal, Dermer said that Israel is no longer having to make “dangerous concessions” for peace.
“We’re not uprooting settlements. We’re not engaging in reckless territorial compromises. We’re suspending temporarily Israel’s extension of sovereignty into areas of Judea and Samaria. And we have the possibility now to have a peace agreement with the Emirates.”
Last week, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, with the help of the United States, struck a breakthrough deal to begin the process of normalization of relations. The deal was Israel’s first with an Arab country in more than 25 years.
Dermer went on to explain the differences between this current peace deal and previous ones with Jordan and Egypt.
This deal with the UAE will be from the “bottom up,” and not the “top down,” like with Egypt and Jordan, he said.
“We have a formal peace agreement with both those countries. A cold peace is better than a hot war, but we would like to turn that into a warm peace of people-to-people, business-to-business contacts with both Egypt and Jordan,” he said.
“The Emirates is a financial and commercial center in the Arab world, and you have Israel, which is a great source of innovation and technology,” stated Dermer. “And when you marry the entrepreneurialism of this commercial center and the power of investments there in the Emirates with Israeli technology and innovation, I think the sky’s the limit.”
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