(September 14, 2020 / JNS) Israel’s peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates, and now, Bahrain, are important and even historic achievements. Alongside the diplomatic, economic and security benefits these agreements are expected to provide, they are also proof of the ability to break the artificial obstacle imposed by the Palestinian question on Israel’s path to peace with the Arab world.
First and foremost, however, the treaty brings wonderful tidings for the UAE, potentially turning it not only into a leader in the Persian Gulf but into a key and influential player in the wider Arab world. The daring and courage displayed by the UAE, which not only dropped the jaws of experts and pundits and catapulted it ahead of far larger countries, are not just a testament to its strength, but to the calculated risk it took, that panned out nicely and transformed the tiny Gulf state into a rising power whose sphere of influence will only spread in the coming years.
Peace with Israel is no longer a contemptible necessity foisted upon Arab states, which they then neglect so as not to antagonize public opinion in their countries. The peace agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain tell us that peace has become a source of pride, not to mention a winning card Arab states play to solidify and bolster their status.
Over the past two decades, the UAE has blossomed into a leading economic hub in the Gulf. That’s not enough, however, because in the Arab world, and the Persian Gulf, in particular, money alone can’t buy durability. If money doesn’t come with military and diplomatic clout, a country will be at the mercy of its neighbors. And with “friendly” neighbors such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq at the time, and Iran of today, one doesn’t need enemies.
In previous decades, it was Qatar that sought the crown. It invited American forces to its territory, launched the Arab world’s first global satellite network, Al Jazeera, and finally, also cultivated relations with Israel. Qatar, however, lost its momentum and fell behind due to a series of wrong decisions—namely, exchanging innovation and modernity and its ties with Israel for radical Islam.
Qatar’s rulers mistakenly believed that extremism and enmity towards Israel would preserve its influence in the region, but the exact opposite occurred. Qatar squandered its status in the Gulf and wider Arab world. Only Israel unwisely grants it a sliver of legitimacy by allowing it to play the role of mediator with Hamas. It appears that the UAE and Bahrain peace deals are an excellent opportunity to return Qatar to its natural place and keep it locked down and isolated as a kingdom of terror and radicalism.
Either way, the UAE has overtaken Qatar and Kuwait, which with typical ingratitude refuse to help the United States bring stability to the region and peace between Israel and the Arabs. Qatar is “out,” the UAE is “in.” And this is just the beginning. With this peace treaty, Israel not only gains an ally, but also a powerful strategic partner with an increasingly prominent role in the Arab world.
Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.
JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.
During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.
Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.