On September 15, US President Trump, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords formalizing normalization between Israel and the two Arab nations.
However, the question remains, will the new agreements finally usher in peace in the Middle East?
Trump during the signing ceremony claims the new treaty will “change the course of history” of the Middle East.
He also believes it marks a new era in the Middle East.
What Are the Abraham Accords?
The new peace deal in the Middle East is named after the three major world religions’ shared ancestor, Abraham.
The accords are the agreements between Israel and two Arab Nations, the UAE and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Moreover, they are brokered by the United States.
Israel and UAE’s agreement’s whole title is, “Abraham Accords: Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations.”
The accords aim to strengthen the normalization and diplomatic relationship between Israel and the Arab nations of the UAE, and Bahrain.
To do this, Israel and the UAE will exchange embassies and ambassadors, sign bilateral agreements on different spheres, such as healthcare, science and technology, tourism, culture, environment, and telecommunications.
Moreover, because of the accords, Netanyahu temporarily suspends Israel’s plans on annexing some parts of the West Bank.
Observers and experts also believe that underneath these diplomatic exchanges is the goal of working against a common threat, which is Iran.
However, working together against Iran is not specified in the accords.
What Supporters Say
Supporters of the new Middle East agreements are optimistic in the agreements’ promise of creating the new Middle East.
Egyptian President Abdelfattah Elsisi applauded everyone involved in the implementation of the agreements.
Moreover, some experts on the Middle East also believe that other Arab nations will follow the Emiratis’ normalization with Israel.
Bahrain has already announced it also wants to normalize its relationship with Israel.
Also, as per VOA, Oman and Morocco might follow.
Where Is Palestine in the Deal?
When talking about peace in the Middle East, especially with the participation of Israel, it is only normal to mention Palestine in the discussion.
Israel and Palestine have been at war since the 1940s.
Both assert their rights in governing and owning the same lands.
However, the accord between the UAE and Israel has only a slight mention of Palestine.
According to the peace agreement, both countries commit to “continuing their efforts to achieve a just, comprehensive, realistic and enduring solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Trump sees the peace agreement as a bridge for a peace deal between Palestine and Israel.
He shared in a Fox interview that normalizing the relationship between Israel and other Arab states is the first step in a broader effort to pressure Palestine to negotiate for a peace deal with Israel.
What Critics Say
Critics, however, don’t find the deal historic and as important.
William Todman, an Associate Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies shares his view on the matter.
Todman doesn’t think the agreement’s importance in peacemaking should be exaggerated, per Vox.
For one thing, the UAE and Bahrain are not at war with Israel.
Although, Arab states, including the two, have boycotted Israel in the past, supporting Palestine’s assertion for self-determination.
Recent years show the warming relationship between Israel and some of those Arab states.
According to reports, the UAE and Israel have already been exchanging deals in secret before the agreement.
The Abraham accords just normalize these deals and make it public.
Also, recently, the Arab League shows a different take on its usual condemnation of Israel.
Prior to the agreement, the organization maintained that individual Arab states have the right to decide on their own when it comes to such matters.
This is after Palestinian leaders asked the Arab League to condemn the new agreement,
Some critics are not that optimistic about the new agreements.
Some believe it might exacerbate the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
Tamara Cofman Wittes, an expert on US policy in the Middle East told the Atlantic that, the threat of annexation, and now, some Arab nations’ agreements with Israel “will cause the Palestinians to dig in.”
Will the Abraham Accords Bring Peace to the Middle East?
It is still too early to tell.
Although, making the deal between the UAE and Israel in public shows a good sign on the future of the Middle East.
It shows that moving forward with better economies and lives, working together against a common threat is more important than old grudges.
However, in the case of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the reality of a peace deal seems too far away still.
For example, on the day of signing the accord, Palestine has made it clear that they condemn the agreement.
Palestinians fired rockets against Israel from the Gaza Strip.
As an answer, Israel fought back with a series of air raids on the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, the threat of Israel annexing parts of the West Bank is still part of Israel’s national plan.
Israel’s annexation of some parts of the West Bank is a big deal, as it greatly collides with Palestine’s assertion on self-determination.
Palestine will still be at the end of this deal, more so, the refugees who are stuck between the two warring states.