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Trump to gain from diplomatic ties in Arab world

Trump to gain from diplomatic ties in Arab world
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Trump to gain from diplomatic ties in Arab world

Highlights

Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday announced establishment of full diplomatic relations in a US-brokered deal that requires Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday announced establishment of full diplomatic relations in a US-brokered deal that requires Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved - Israel, UAE and Donald Trump. UAE has just become the third country to "mind its business more" and not get forever tangled in the Palestinian web, a solution for which seems to be elusive.

The US expects more Arab countries to follow suit as the ice has been finally broken. The agreement makes the UAE only the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. How much of normality could be expected is to be seen on the ground, but certainly, this will lead to cooperation in areas like direct flights, tourism and embassies. This could happen over a time.

Egypt was the first Arab State to normalise relations with Israel, followed by Jordan in 1994. In Benjamin Netanyahu's words "we usher in a new era of peace between Israel and the Arab world… here is a good chance, we will soon see more Arab countries joining this expanding circle of peace." But Netanyahu said the West Bank annexation plan was on "temporary hold". What has brought these two countries together now to sign the agreement? We need to look to Iran for the answers. The coming together of interests of Israel and Gulf countries could be the result of the rise of Sunni Jihadists and Iran. There is frustration all around with the Palestinian cause forcing the Arab States seek more freedom to work for their own interests. The Covid-19 situation has only added to the craving. On the other hand, even Netanyahu was just waiting to grab any opportunity which boosts his own base back home. It was politically a wrong move on part of him to set a target - West Bank annexation after July 1.

He could neither move ahead on this count nor could he announce a withdrawal. He was in a bind to stir up his sagging image. He is eying Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman next. If he could normalise relationships with these, he becomes stronger than any other leader in his country while continuing his salami slicing in the West Bank. As for the UAE, it could also mean access to the American weapons which are sold only to the countries friendly with Israel. Be it Trump now or (in case) Joe Biden next, the UAE will not have to regret the move as it is also in the American interests. And key Arab States, including Egypt and Jordan, well know that the road to favour in Washington can run through Jerusalem. The UAE has chosen the best option unlike Saudi Arabia which got blasted by the US (including the Democrats) for the cold-blooded murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist of Washington Post. A clean and neat operation is this one by the UAE. This would also give it a defence - that it could stop Israel from its annexation plans of the West Bank. Trump too benefits, as he brokered the deal ahead of his elections.

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