U.S. President Donald Trump announced on August 27 that Israel and the UAE would be normalizing relations after decades of tension. Reuters reports that the UAE and Israel first announced the move to normalize relations on August 13, but did not agree on a deal at that time. This deal is the result of Trump’s broader attempts at peace in the Middle East.
According to The Washington Post, the deal came about due to increased fears surrounding Iran and a desire to stop Israel’s plan to illegally annex the West Bank. For Israel, this deal provides a distraction for Prime Minister Netanyahu as he receives backlash for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also been a long-term strategic goal for Israel to establish formal relations with its neighbors to increase acceptance of their statehood and open up commercial opportunities in the region.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the deal, known as the Abraham Accord, will “establish normal relations between the two nations.” This includes opening up business relations, tourism, direct flights, and military and scientific cooperation. As part of this deal, Israel agreed to postpone annexation of the West Bank, though there are few details as to how long this postponement will last or what will happen if Israel decides to move forward despite the deal.
Some nations are expected to follow the UAE’s lead and normalize relations with Israel. According to Al Jazeera, Sudan and Bahrain are expected to follow suit and normalize relations too. Before this deal, only Jordan and Egypt had normalized relations with Israel, as many nations in the Arab world wanted Israel to cede more land to Palestine before normalizing relations.
This deal has not come without backlash. Turkey has threatened to suspend relations with the UAE. However, the biggest opponents of this deal are the Palestinian people. NPR interviewed multiple Palestinians who all report feeling betrayed by the UAE. Ayman Ramiyeh, a Palestinian interviewee, said “making peace with Israel is not a bad idea at all, but peace not like this peace, peace whereby you give me my country, you give me my rights, not like this.” Most Palestinians feel this way because Arab nations previously demanded some form of deal between Israel and Palestine before normalizing relations. In response, the Palestinian Authority is recalling its ambassador to the UAE and boycotting the World Trade Expo in Dubai.
Though the UAE touts that they are preventing the illegal annexation of the West Bank, former Palestinian Education Minister Sabri Saidam argues that the deal does not go far enough, as plans to annex the West Bank are still on the table. He points out that just because the governments normalize relations, it does not mean the citizens are on board with the decision, stating “I assure you, Egypt has signed an agreement 1979. The Jordanians have signed the peace deal with the Israelis. But yet there’s no normalization amongst the people. You don’t see Egyptians coming and visiting. There’s been an agreement, but there’s not been any normalization.”