Earlier this month, the Jewish people celebrated the joyous holiday of Tu B’Av, the date on the Jewish calendar that focuses on love and commitment.
Little did we know at the time that President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan were putting the finishing touches on an agreement formalizing the bond between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
This agreement is a match made in heaven, wedding the technology of Israel with the economic powerhouse of the UAE.
Only those who have spent time in both countries, as I have, can appreciate how magnificent an opportunity this agreement is—not only for Israel and the UAE, but also for making the entire world a better place. Both countries are at the forefront of success in a changing global world.
Dubai has a skyline that rivals Manhattan and has become a very important financial center. It is a place of tolerance, not just relative to the rest of the Arab world. Its population is vibrant and diverse. It has become a home to American universities and a hub for key airlines.
Israel’s innovation has impressed the world and become a model, especially for other small countries. Its accomplishments have come despite having few natural resources and a turbulent political system.
After peace agreements with Egypt and then Jordan failed to result in increased ties between Israel and other Arab countries, this deal opens up the Arab and Muslim world to Israel through Dubai and enables mutually beneficial commerce and trade. The crown prince deserves much praise for his courage in making the deal.
This agreement creates opportunities for cooperation in agriculture, tourism and technology, which is needed more than ever during the international health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be very symbolic if the lifting of the animosity between these two countries will lead to the breakthrough the world has been waiting for and praying for.
As expected with any accomplishment of Trump and Netanyahu, critics on both the left and right have been quick to downplay and dismiss this historic agreement.
Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas said he viewed the deal as an affront to the Palestinian people. His criticism is proof of the agreement’s necessity and potential success.
None of the concessions Israel made for decades has led to reciprocity by the Palestinians. Rather than make the concessions necessary to help their own people, Abbas and other Palestinian leaders stalled for time, resorted to violence and incitement, and missed countless opportunities to progress.
This agreement should be a wake-up call to the Palestinians that no one is waiting for them to overcome their stubbornness anymore. Whether they like it or not, those days are now officially over. Their ability to hold Israel hostage has been lost forever.
Perhaps seeing a leading Arab country pursue the agreement with Israel that they should have made decades ago will finally be what brings the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
But whenever they do come back, they will find that while they were stalling, the paradigm changed. This agreement with UAE is the first of what will become the new trend: Instead of land for peace, from now on, Israel will be trading peace for peace.
Israel will no longer relinquish land and evacuate Jews from their homes in return for calm, only to receive rockets, terror tunnels and suicide bombers in return. The Palestinians will have to overcome their internal divides, their corruption and their misplaced priorities—or they will be rightly forgotten.
With all due respect to the Palestinians, the UAE is more important for Israel’s future. The Gross Domestic Product of the UAE is $414.2 billion—more than 28 times the GDP of the Palestinian Authority. Its ability to affect the P.A. cannot be overstated.
This agreement can lead to peace deals with other Muslim countries, including Bahrain and Qatar, and eventually Saudi Arabia.
This was the goal of Trump’s peace plan from day one, and skeptics who doubted that he could bring about peace in the Middle East are invited to eat their hat. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Trump advisers Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, and Friedman’s chief of staff Aryeh Lightstone all deserve praise for their extraordinary accomplishment.
Despite incorrect reports to the contrary, they will continue to work towards applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, which has become easier, not harder, now that the proper environment for implementation has been created. Israeli politicians to the right of Netanyahu are absolutely wrong to downplay the achievements for Israel in this agreement due to their concerns about the suspension of sovereignty. As a practical matter, that suspension does not affect the situation on the ground.
While applying sovereignty would realistically require Trump’s re-election, this agreement between Israel and the UAE will remain for posterity, no matter who resides in the White House after Jan. 20.
For the past three-and-a-half years, the road to Washington has passed through Jerusalem, and the Arab world knows that has made the entire world safer. The UAE deal is a crowning achievement for Trump in his first term. Some American Jews may not love the president, but this is the time to express gratitude for everything he has done for Israel.
Martin Oliner is co-president of the Religious Zionists of America and chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity, and serves as a committee member of the Jewish Agency.