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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Israel – Arab relations a historical step – an end of informal isolation. Thank you Trump!

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Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Prakash Saxena is a graduate of UBC, Vancouver, Canada. He is an authority on eCommerce, eProcurement, eSign, DSCs and Internet Security. He has been a Technology Bureaucrat and Thought leader in the Government. He has 8 books and few UN assignments. He wrote IT Policies of Colombia and has implemented projects in Jordan, Rwanda, Nepal and Mauritius. Rajiv writes, speaks, mentors on technology issues in Express Computers, ET, National frontier and TV debates. He worked and guided the following divisions: Computer Aided Design (CAD), UP: MP: Maharashtra and Haryana State Coordinator to setup NICNET in their respective Districts of the State, TradeNIC, wherein a CD containing list of 1,00,000 exporters was cut with a search engine and distributed to all Indian Embassies and High Commissions way back in the year 1997 (It was an initiative between NIC and MEA Trade Division headed by Ms. Sujatha Singh, IFS, India’s Ex Foreign Secretary), Law Commission, Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Justice, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), National Jail Project, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Data Centres (NDC), NIC National Infrastructure, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), eProcurement, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA), Lok Sabha and its Secretariat (LSS) and Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat (RSS) along with their subordinate and attached offices like Directorate of Estate (DoE), Land & Development Office (L&DO), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB), Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDO), National Building Organisation (NBO), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), BMPTC and many others.

The announcement of a peace deal between the UAE and Israel, brokered by US President Donald Trump, was a surprise to many. But for me, it is the natural progression of greater understanding between the two countries that has been developed largely because of shared economic aspirations and the emerging threat of a nuclear – armed Iran.

When United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Ambassador to the United States, Excellency Yousef al – Otaiba, decided to publish an op – ed in Hebrew in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot in mid – June, 2020, his intent was to influence the Israeli debate on the West Bank annexation. (An op ed, short for “opposite the editorial page”, is a written prose piece typically published by a newspaper or magazine which expresses the opinion of an author usually not affiliated with the publication’s editorial board).

By this time US peace plan was already out. The op – ed hit its mark among the political veterans of the region. Al – Otaiba’s unprecedented and unmediated address got Israelis’ attention and dominated political conversation for days. But the Ambassador did more than that. He also opened the door to a major step forward in breaking down barriers in Israeli – Arab ties, realized in August 2020, with the surprise announcement that the Israel and the UAE had reached agreement to normalize diplomatic relations. The celebration and display of the Israeli Flag and the national colors of Israel, which are blue and white as seen on the Flag of Israel at Burj Khalifa showed it all.

When ‘Bibi’, who is mired in corruption controversies wants to do something, he can. On that Thursday, PM Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu scored a meaningful diplomatic achievement in the form of a ‘normalisation’ agreement between Israel and the UAE. The mutual uncloseting, after several years in which political and security relationships between both the extended neighbour nations developed in secret, cannot compare to the peace treaties that his predecessors signed with Egypt and Jordan, whose armies fought in Israel and shed Israeli blood. Israel had made peace with two of its neighbours earlier.

It made peace with the Arab Republic of Egypt in 1979 and it made peace with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1994, two countries with which the State of Israel had fought multiple wars and numerous border skirmishes. Israel has also exchanged sizeable territories for the sake of peace, as it did when it withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for peace with the Arab Republic of Egypt. While Israeli citizens have suffered greatly as a result of violence and terrorism, Israelis still desire peace.

These two peace agreements, now 40 and 25 years old respectively, have endured and bettered the lives of citizens in Israel, Jordan and Egypt. But the deal does open a breach in the Arab ring of isolation around Israel. It also decides, in Netanyahu’s favour, a stubborn disagreement between him and his opponents on the left (and previous US administrations). It turns out that relations with the Sunni Muslim states can be upgraded significantly without first solving the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. A welcome strategy.

Hend Al Otaiba, Director of Strategic Communication at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, played down possibility of an embassy located in Jerusalem and expresses hope the deal with Israel will lead to a ‘just settlement’ with the Palestinians, after the historic agreement. An over enthusiastic reporter from Israel mentioned to her, “First of all congratulations on this historic event. I really hope to visit soon and hope to see you in Israel as well. How soon do you think we will see this happen? Business and travel visas for any citizen from both countries? Are we talking about full diplomatic relations or a more gradual process? You know, Israeli media are already checking out hotel prices”, he joked.

The old ways of hatred and wars have gained the region nothing. Joining the new path of Arab – Israeli peace and cooperation would strengthen the Palestinians – and it would be a big win for Lebanon, too. Palestinians have aspirations that have not been realised, including self – determination, improvement of their standard of living, social betterment and a respected place in the region, as well as among the nations of the world. Many Palestinians desire peace and recognise the enormous economic opportunities and social benefits that await them if relations with the Israel can be normalised.

Gaza is a very complicated situation. It is under the control of Hamas, a terrorist organisation and as a result of Hamas’ policies, is approaching a humanitarian crisis. It is time to help the Palestinians achieve a hopeful and prosperous future and enable them to join the community of nations.

In 1993, the Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) reached the first of several interim agreements, known collectively as the Oslo Accords. Late Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, who signed the Oslo Accords and who in 1995 gave his life to the cause of peace, outlined in his last speech to the Knesset, his vision regarding the ultimate resolution of the conflict.

He envisioned Jerusalem remaining united under Israeli rule, the portions of the West Bank with large Jewish population and the Jordan Valley being incorporated into Israel and the remainder of the West Bank, along with Gaza, becoming subject to the Palestinian Civil Autonomy in what he said would be something “less than a state.” Rabin’s vision was the basis upon which the Knesset approved the Oslo Accords and it was not rejected by the Palestinian leadership at that time.

Land of Israel activist and publicist Boaz Ha’etzni makes another very important point against this deal with the UAE, relating to the peace deal with Jordan. Ha’etzni points out that Israel always had relations with Jordan, since 1948, yet secret relations. And because they were secret, Israel never had to pay a price, until an official peace deal was made in 1994. Thanks to the deal, Israel then had to give away Israeli land and hand over a huge amount of water each year to Jordan that hurts Israel during the drought years. In addition, since the deal was signed, Jordan has to prove to the Arab world and to its own citizens that peaceful relations with Israel is just a show. Hence, Jordan is one of the worst states in the UN always co-sponsoring and supporting anti-Israel resolutions.

Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, UAE and to some extent the Saudis have dumped the Palestinians. “Arab Unity” is unthinkable and no way practical. In my humble opinion Col. Nasser was the last leader who could call himself “Arab Leader” or “Leader of the Arab World”. Why should they fight Israel? For whom? For the Palestinians who openly admire Hitler? What are they going to gain? The conflict between the Israel and the Palestinians has kept other Arab countries from normalising their relationships and jointly pursuing a stable, secure and prosperous region. One reason for the intractability of this problem is the conflation of two separate conflicts: a territorial, security and refugee dispute between Israel and the Palestinians and a religious dispute between Israel and the Muslim world regarding control over places of religious significance. The absence of formal relations between Israel and most Muslim and Arab countries has only exacerbated the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. People believe that if more Muslim and Arab nations normalise relations with Israel it will help advance a just and fair resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and prevent radicals and hardliners from using this conflict to destabilise the region.

The announcement of a peace deal between the UAE and Israel, brokered by US President Donald Trump, was a surprise to many. But for me, it is the natural progression of greater understanding between the two countries that has been developed largely because of shared economic aspirations and the emerging threat of a nuclear – armed Iran.

Netanyahu never had a real plan for annexing parts of the West Bank. There was no timetable, no map and no draft resolution to be brought to the Government or to the Knesset. Just a pile of broken election promises and a lot of empty talk. On Thursday, ‘that plan’ he never planned to carry out has, brought him a significant diplomatic coup and Potus a new support base among Jews in USA.

A deal between the UAE and Israel that will lead to normalised ties has been welcomed across the Middle East and beyond. US President Donald Trump, who helped broker the deal, hailed the agreement as big breakthrough. “HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In his first tweet, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed said: ‘During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories. The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the agreement describing it as “hugely good news”. “The UAE and Israel’s decision to normalise relations is hugely good news,” Johnson said on Twitter. France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, welcome the announcement, adding that the UAE and Israel were considered “essential regional partners.”

He welcomed the news that Israel had pledged to suspend “the annexation of Palestinian territories,” describing it as “a positive step, which must become a final measure.” “The new mindset of these announcements must now boost the Israeli – Palestinian negotiations on a two – state solution within the framework of international law and agreed parameters, which is the only way to reach fair and stable peace in the region,” he added.

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner said UAE becomes one of the US closest allies in the region after the deal with Israel. Even US Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden hailed the deal as an historic step toward a more stable Middle East, warning he would not support Israel’s annexation of Jewish settlements if he wins the White House in November. “The UAE’s offer to publicly recognise the State of Israel is a welcome, brave and badly – needed act of statesmanship,” the former Vice President said in a statement. “Annexation would be a body blow to the cause of peace, which is why I oppose it now and would oppose it as President.”

Oman supported UAE’s agreement to normalise ties with Israel on Friday and said they hope it would contribute to peace in the region. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El – Sisi praised the deal, saying it would halt Israeli annexation of Palestinian land. “I read with interest and great appreciation the joint statement between the United States, the brotherly United Arab Emirates and Israel concerning the halt of Israel’s annexation of Palestinian land,” El-Sisi said in a tweet, adding that this would help bring “peace” to the Middle East.

Bahrain welcomed the peace accord between the UAE and Israel which stops Israeli annexation plans and raises the chances of peace, state news agency BNA said. Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Minister of foreign affairs and expatriates said Israel must choose between a just and comprehensive solution that ends the occupation of Palestinian land or the continuation of a conflict that violates the rights of the Palestinian people. Safadi said that if Israel views the agreement as an incentive to end the occupation and accept the rights of Palestinians to freedom and an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, it will be a step toward peace in the region.

If not, he warned that the conflict will escalate and increase the threat to the security of the entire Middle East. He added that a just and comprehensive peace, which is a strategic choice for the Arab world and a necessity for regional and international peace and security, will not be achieved while the occupation continues and Israel persists with policies and procedure that threaten the two – state solution and undermine the foundation on which the peace process is based.

The minister said Amman supports any genuine effort to achieve a just and comprehensive peace that ends the Israeli occupation and ensures rights of the Palestinian people. Jordan will continue to work with others to achieve this, he added, but any peace will not be permanent unless accepted by all people. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed “any initiative that can promote peace and security in the Middle East region”.

As part of the deal, Israel had agreed “to suspend” plans to annex Jewish settlements and other territory in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint statement from the US, UAE and Israel tweeted by Trump. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “This is a momentous agreement which has taken courage, imagination and leadership. It preserves the possibility of the ‘Two State’ solution by halting the annexation plan which would have made such a solution a near impossibility. 

“By deepening the relationships between Israel and Arab nations, it helps create conditions which offer Israelis the prospect of security and the Palestinians the chance to pursue statehood with credibility. “And it shows how the modern dividing line in the Middle East is not between different faiths and cultures but between those who wish for peaceful co-existence across the boundaries of faith and culture; and those who want violent confrontation.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the deal a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims.” Turkey, on its part, said the peoples of the region “will never forget and will never forgive this hypocritical behaviour” by the UAE. The UAE, which has never fought a war with Israel and has quietly been improving ties for years, said the agreement put a hold on Israel’s plans to unilaterally annex parts of the occupied West Bank, which the Palestinians view as the heartland of their future state. But the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the UAE had no authority to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians or “to make concessions on matters vital to Palestine.” Iran has been terribly hit by harsh US sanctions.

At present exchange rate, one dollar is 148000 Riyal. Israel for whose destruction Iran desires wants to go nuclear has struck a deal with UAE which will be supported by many other Arab countries in the region. Iran recently signed an agreement with China. Will she wriggle out or become a vassal of China like Pakistan? This answer evades most policy makers.

Many of the other Arab powers, such as Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan, apart from the big global powers and India, have welcomed the deal. Iran has slammed it, as have Turkey and Syria. Saudi Arabia has been very quiet diplomatically. The Palestinian ambassador to the UAE is being recalled over Abu Dhabi’s decision to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called “treason.” The Ambassador was recalled from Abu Dhabi on Thursday in response to the deal between Israel and the UAE, which became the first Gulf Arab state to officially establish diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.

Sunni Muslim nations had so called ‘business relations’ with Israel. Israeli cyberattack firm NSO and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have been involved in a plot to hack the phone of Amazon’s billionaire boss Jeff Bezos. The UN special rapporteurs, Agnes Callamard and David Kaye, said they had information pointing to the “possible involvement” of the Prince and the Israeli spyware company in the alleged 2018 cyberattack.

Saudi officials have dismissed the allegations as absurd. NSO denied the suggestion in a statement, asserting that it could “say unequivocally that our technology was not used in this instance,” and that the claims “highlight the need for the surveillance community to follow our lead and implement strict Human Rights Policies and to act in a compliant manner.” Cybersecurity experts hired by Bezos, the world’s richest man, concluded his phone was probably infiltrated by a video file sent from a WhatsApp account purportedly belonging to Prince Mohammed in 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Dubbed the Abraham Accords, the deal is set to be signed by the UAE and Israel in the coming weeks. It is also clear that at least Bahrain, Oman, and Sudan are set to announce peace agreements with Israel as well. While these peace deals are welcomed, it has come at a cost. The UAE through the US has forced Israel to freeze sovereignty in order to allow the Abraham Accord to become finalised. On the one hand, the peace deal with the UAE is a huge accomplishment and probably paves the way for a future peace deal with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab countries, which should be a big boost for Israel diplomatically, especially in standing up against Iran and maybe even at the UN, but I’m not sure on it now. It also is an another nail in the coffin of the diplomatic left, proving that the left’s philosophy and policy, that peace with the Arab world is only possible after Israel expels Jews and destroys Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria, is wrong and completely dead. Just recently, US think tanks and leftist Generals and politicians in Israel, were screaming to high heavens against Trump’s decisions to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, recognise Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights and declare that Israeli settlements in Judea & Samaria are not illegal. They have also been screaming for years that Netanyahu has irreparably damaged diplomatic relations for Israel in the region. Most of the Muslim nations never thought that this will happen. OIC is already divided on the Indian issue and now it will get further divided with respect to Israel.

This accord is a great opportunity for squeezing out Chinese money in the region by UAE money invested in the Israel infrastructure and airports. Indian scientists, Israel technology and UAE work in the artificial intelligence domain will take great shape. Normalising relations with the UAE may not be peace, but it’s the second-best thing. The move’s benefits are sevenfold in view of the price Israel had to pay: abandoning the annexation idea. Netanyahu, even if he did so against his will, chose not to drag the already flammable region into a dangerous chaos, which was the dream of the messianic settlers in the occupied territories. In return, he received a diplomatic coup under the auspices of President Donald Trump, who is aching to make a good deal on the way to the November 3rd Presidential election. The biggest victor will be US which can keep a further closer watch on Iran. Oman’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, spoke over the phone with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. According to the Omani ministry’s Twitter account, the two discussed regional developments and Oman reiterated its commitment to a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” They also discussed the necessity of resuming negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, “to fulfill the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the tweet said. The unusual rhetoric may be the stepping stone of opening ties. The statement said Pakistan has “an abiding commitment to the full realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people”, including their right to self-determination, while peace and stability in the Middle East are also Islamabad’s key priority. Many citizens articulate Pakistan should form a nexus with the only countries that are friendly to it – Palestine, Turkey, China and North Korea and promote peace and trade between them.

The normalisation agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates has been presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu primarily as the opening of a window on economic opportunities and markets to Israeli companies, and that will officially establish cooperation in research, medicine, export of weapons and high-tech between the two countries. I have a feeling that sooner or later OIC is likely to have more fissures and the Caliphate lobby of Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and Malaysia may form an alternate anti US OIC. The so called formal isolation of Israel from the world scene is getting over.

Obama was a proponent and messiah of peace. So he bombed the life out of thousands of Afghans. Got a Peace Prize for all the bombing he did. Trump does not care for peace but he cares for Americans. So he ensured that all the wars which America fought during Obama’s time come to an end. He ensured peace between Israel and Arab enemies. He cut off the supply line for state – sponsored terrorists in Pakistan. He plans to move out his soldiers from the snowcapped mountains of Afghanistan. By the way, can you imagine the collective media celebration that would be happening if it was President Obama who had gotten the Israelis and an Arab state to normalise ties? Instead, today they are silent in their praise of President Trump, because it’s President Trump. The irony is that President Obama received a Nobel peace prize for nothing, while President Trump probably will not receive a Nobel peace prize even though he did bring about peace between Israel and an Arab nation. Such celebration in the Middle East will be after 26 long years.

Thank you Potus Donald J. Trump

References:

https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2020/the-failed-deals-of-the-century/index.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Peace-to-Prosperity-0120.pdf

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Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Prakash Saxena is a graduate of UBC, Vancouver, Canada. He is an authority on eCommerce, eProcurement, eSign, DSCs and Internet Security. He has been a Technology Bureaucrat and Thought leader in the Government. He has 8 books and few UN assignments. He wrote IT Policies of Colombia and has implemented projects in Jordan, Rwanda, Nepal and Mauritius. Rajiv writes, speaks, mentors on technology issues in Express Computers, ET, National frontier and TV debates. He worked and guided the following divisions: Computer Aided Design (CAD), UP: MP: Maharashtra and Haryana State Coordinator to setup NICNET in their respective Districts of the State, TradeNIC, wherein a CD containing list of 1,00,000 exporters was cut with a search engine and distributed to all Indian Embassies and High Commissions way back in the year 1997 (It was an initiative between NIC and MEA Trade Division headed by Ms. Sujatha Singh, IFS, India’s Ex Foreign Secretary), Law Commission, Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Justice, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), National Jail Project, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Data Centres (NDC), NIC National Infrastructure, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), eProcurement, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA), Lok Sabha and its Secretariat (LSS) and Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat (RSS) along with their subordinate and attached offices like Directorate of Estate (DoE), Land & Development Office (L&DO), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB), Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDO), National Building Organisation (NBO), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), BMPTC and many others.
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