(August 16, 2020 / JNS) It seems truly difficult for some people to support peace, but here it is, and it’s a real, true peace—one that is presenting itself for the third time since Israel’s establishment, despite the infinite “no”s that have overwhelmed the Jewish state; regardless of the suffering and misery that its enemies have endured due to their warmongering ideology.
The recent agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates promises stability, water, technology and energy. Yet, two battle lines are already being drawn between two “armies”—one in favor of the deal, and the other against; one that wishes to advance the treaty and the other that desires to thwart it by hiding behind the usual banner of the “Palestinian cause.”
We can see figures who have always defined themselves as defenders of peace now attacking this deal, just because it has the signatures of U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Honorable people who hated the “Deal of the Century” now don’t care that it has been eclipsed by the historical peace treaty between the UAE and Israel.
It’s actually interesting. The condition for the pact between Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Netanyahu, with Trump as co-signer, is the setting aside of the Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity,” which would have allotted the Palestinian Authority 70 percent of Area C, and 30 percent to Israel, including the Jordan Valley, which would have come under Israeli sovereignty.
The current treaty was reached by renouncing this plan. And yet, the Palestinians who fought it with real hatred in all arenas, both diplomatic and through terrorism, are not happy with the renouncement. Instead, they declare it a betrayal—an Arab abandonment—thus revealing that they hate any peace that they themselves did not choose, which really means that they choose “no peace” with Israel, as they have always done.
It is thus that the “army of peace”—made up of liberal Europeans and leftist Jews—march with them, or abstain even from dutiful applause. The only valid conditions in their eyes are Palestinian.
Peace in the Middle East, such a precious step for world peace itself, loses its meaning when it’s not a deal signed by Palestinians. It appears that the only aim of these so-called “peace warriors” is political: to keep alive the old international order—the one that has actually blocked any real peace process, under the false pretense that there can be no Mideast peace until Israel leaves all “illegally occupied territories,” included Jerusalem.
At the head of the old group of Palestinian peace-lovers is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who, just like the ayatollahs–one Sunni and the other Shi’ite—is fighting for the leadership of Islam by focusing on hatred of Israel. Erdoğan has even announced that he will recall his ambassador from the UAE. Meanwhile, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, is accusing the Arabs of abandoning the Palestinian cause in favor of an “unspeakable, warmongering, human-rights violating regime” like Israel. And he dares saying so while Iran has deployed an army of soldiers and terrorists throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, and persecutes all dissidents (and hangs homosexuals) across the Islamic Republic.
The reaction of the European Union, via a tweet by High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, is tremblingly lukewarm: “I welcome Israel-UAE normalization; benefits both and is important for regional stability … EU hopes for resumed Israel-Palestinian negotiations on a 2-state solution based on int’l agreed parameters.”
In fact, Bin Zayed had already written in the agreement itself that it is a road map that will be completed when the needs of the Palestinians are met. This Borrelle remembers, while forgetting the extremely innovative and courageous path that the agreement is inaugurating. This is the first time that a relationship between an Arab state and Israel was conceived in the perspective of a general peace with the Jewish state, omitting the conditions of the old “Arab Initiative.”
Now it is very clear that the new situation in the Middle East is set between two blocs—one of which has finally embraced the concept that Israel, far from being a detriment, bears positive fruit.
Who is part of this alliance? Egypt, who hailed the agreement between Israel and the UAE; Bahrain and Oman are said to be following suit; Morocco and Saudi Arabia are also observing the field with interest. This peace is a revolution that breaks an initiative based on the three gigantic “no”s”: No to peace; no to recognition of Israel; and no to negotiations—which garnered curses and insults against those who dared to reject it.
The basic veto against peace came from the Palestinians and radical Islamists, who used it as a shield. It has become the flag and the rationale of the ayatollah-led regime in Tehran, which extended its reach to Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, through its proxy Hezbollah, which it employs massively in Syria and in Iraq.
But the determination of great part of the Sunni world to save itself became strategic, when former U.S. President Barack Obama made the choice to balance and control the two Arab worlds with the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
At that time, Israel had begun to demonstrate not only its ability to manage agriculture, water and medicine, but also to face the Iranian threat with military and cyber weapons. Here it became a desirable ally for the Arab world.
Trump, paradoxically, paved the way for an agreement, by providing the plan whose conditions Netanyahu courageously accepted, with a nudge from the U.S., in order to forge peace.
Both Trump and Netanyahu have been exhibiting such bravery, before and after the unveiling of the “deal of the century.”
The responses on the part of Turkey and Iran are nothing new. These enemies of the UAE-Israel agreement have already had other clashes with the Emirates and the moderate Sunni world.
Erdoğan is the leader of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, and actually has had clashes almost everywhere—in Libya, Syria and Greece, as well as with the Kurds. Iran, of course, is an enemy to three quarters of the region.
Hatred against Israel, however, no longer carries much weight as a weapon for hegemony. Peace seems to be growing more fashionable.
Journalist Fiamma Nirenstein was a member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), where she served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies. She served in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism. A founding member of the international Friends of Israel Initiative, she has written 13 books, including “Israel Is Us” (2009). Currently, she is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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