On August 18 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had noramlised relations with Israel, making the country the first of the six Arab Gulf states to do so. In addition, the country also became the third Arab state to normalise relations after Egypt in 1979, and Jordan in 1994. After the UAE, it is possible that Oman, Bahrain, and Morocco are expected to follow.
Throughout years, the UAE and Israel have been having discreet contact with each other. Therefore, the UAE foreign ministry in Abu Dhabi, its Arabian neighbors, and possibly the rest of the world, were taken in surprise after the announcement of their relations to one another. After the announcement, most of the Palestinians viewed the relations between UAE and Israel as betrayal to themselves as they are trying to get a state of their own as well as to end Israeli occupation.
For the UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, this deal is similar to a gamble as it could make UAE’s leadership unpopular in the Arab world where some social media postings have been calling it “a sell-out”. Despite this, it seems that this is viewed as a small concern as Prince Mohammed is proceeding to connect to the UAE.
However there are many advantages should this alliance work out. For one, it would reveal the changing geopolitics of the region. The change will give the UAE a lot of generosity to the US, where UAE’s image had been destroyed from its involvement in the Yemen war. Also, with Israel and the UAE working together, it would benefit the UAE by being supplied with strategic advantage and technology as well as jobs. Not only will it benefit their economy, it will also benefit the UAE’s concerns with Iran as the UAE share’s a deep mistrust with them along with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
In response to the agreement, United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “it was my profound hope that annexation did not go ahead in the West Bank and today‘s agreement to suspend those plans is a welcome step on the road to a more peaceful Middle East”. Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi also agreed to the deal while Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi added that the agreement could help push ahead stalled peace negotiations. However, a senior Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, disagreed with the deal, saying the UAE had “come out in the open on its secret dealings/normalisation with Israel”. He also added to Prince Mohammed that he would never be sold out by his ‘friends’. Similarly, Iran’s foreign ministry called the pact “shameful”, while the Hamas militant group in Gaza called it a “stabbing in the back of our people.” Only time and politics will tell if the peace between these two countries will remain.