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A Piecemeal Peace Deal in the Middle East: This past Tuesday, US President Donald Trump hosted a signing ceremony at the White House for the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab states of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani signed the “Abraham Accords” on the South Lawn of the White House. The Israel-UAE deal was initially reached on August 13, with Bahrain announcing last Friday that it will also formally recognize the Jewish state. How were the Abraham Accords viewed in the eyes of the media? Let’s take a look:
On the Left: Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in chief of The Atlantic, says, “Iran and the Palestinians Lose Out in the Abraham Accords.” According to Goldberg, the winners were “The White House aides who named this agreement ‘The Abraham Accords’ because this was a ‘genius marketing move,’ The authoritarian leaders, or authoritarian-curious leaders, of four countries, the makers of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the ambassadors, and Israelis.” The losers, however, were the Iranians and The Palestinians. Goldberg says, “Israel and the United Arab Emirates (along with other Gulf states) have secretly cooperated with each other against their common enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran, for more than a decade. The normalization of relations strengthens this coalition, the members of which (mainly correctly) see Iran and its various terrorist appendages as threats to their stability and territorial integrity, and even to their existence.” Additionally, Goldberg writes that The Palestinians lost out as well. “Once again, Arab leaders are signaling to the Palestinians that they have grown tired of what they see as Palestinian rejectionism and obduracy, and also that they would very much like to be partners with Israel in high-tech development and in the fight against Iran.” In conclusion, Goldberg says, “If the so-called Abraham Accords put Iran and its terrorist proxies on the back foot, then good. If they cause Israel to avoid coming to terms with the reality that its continued control over the lives of millions of Palestinians threatens its democratic nature, then both the Palestinian aspiration of nationhood and the Israeli dream of a free and strong democratic haven in the Jewish ancestral homeland could be victims of this agreement.” Here is how other left-leaning outlets covered the event:
- White House largely disregards coronavirus precautions during Abraham Accords signing, Maegan Vazquez, CNN
- Love Triangle Spawned Trump’s Mideast Peace Deal Thomas Friedman, NY Times
On the Right: The Wall Street Editorial Board called this the “Art of the Mideast Deal,” saying the agreement was successful because Trump was willing to break with a failed conventional wisdom. The WSJ Ed Board asks, “How would official Washington respond if a Democratic President brokered a peace deal between Israel and two Arab states? The papers would be stacked with play-by-plays of how the historic breakthrough was achieved and adulatory profiles of the people in the room.” Instead, “The reaction Tuesday… was more muted.” The WSJ Ed Board acknowledges that “Some groundwork for the cascading thaw in Arab-Israeli relations was laid by a decade of shifts in the Middle East’s balance of power as Israel grew stronger, the Iran threat persisted, and the U.S. signaled its intention to draw down,” however, “the Trump Administration deserves credit for taking advantage of these strategic shifts, and for setting aside the failed conventional playbook for how Arab-Israeli comity could be achieved.” The WSJ Ed Board says that, “For all the talk of Mr. Trump scorning American allies, the achievement here was possible because he backed allies to the hilt, giving them confidence in U.S. support. He rejected Barack Obama’s failed courtship of Iran and withdrew from the flawed nuclear deal. He showed the nerve to kill the leader of Iran’s regional aggression, Qasem Soleimani.” Similar to Jeffrey Goldberg’s notes above, the WSJ Ed Board points out that The Palestinians did not gain from these accords, but “Israel’s wider recognition may eventually cause the Palestinians to come to the table in a realistic way. This may seem unlikely now, but Tuesday’s agreement shows that political arrangements that look permanent one day may not be the next.” Here is how other right-leaning outlets covered the event:
- The Art of the Peace Deal, Trump’s Masterful Detente Michael Goodwin, NY Post
- Trump Rejected Establishment to Pave Way for Historic Peace Carrie Sheffield, JTN
Flag This: According to Seth Frantzman of The Jerusalem Post, “there are rumors that several other states could be next to sign an agreement with Israel. While there are hurdles to normalizing relations with some states in the Middle East, there are others who view the UAE decision as a trial balloon and will react positively based on how the next weeks and months play out between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.” With that said, Oman might be next. There have been some positive developments, yet at the same time Oman hosts visits by top Iranian delegations. Morocco also could be another domino to fall. Frantzman notes that “there is a Jewish community in Morocco, and the country has made some gestures in recent years that show warming, people-to-people relations despite diplomatic ties being stagnated.” Saudi Arabia “has appeared to be more open to Israel in recent years.” Both countries share a common enemy in Iran. Lastly, Qatar may also be on the list. Harder sells might be countries like “Iraq [which] has too much Iranian influence to normalize relations with Israel. Yemen is also in the midst of a civil war, and the Iranian-backed Houthis have an official slogan, saying: “Death to Israel, curse the Jews.” If the regime falls in Iran, there’s a potential for a peace deal because, “Tehran and Jerusalem had good relations prior to 1979. Similarly in Somalia, there are chances Israel could reach out to the region of Somaliland, which has declared itself independent since the ’90s. Further afield, Israel faces hostility from Pakistan and Malaysia. Whereas Indonesia once seemed more moderate, it, too, has hostile elements in its political landscape.” At the end of the day, increasing peace in the Middle East should be perceived as a good thing. Let’s hope common bonds can be formed not only in this volatile region, but elsewhere in the world as well.