The signatory states as well as the USA cheer the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are storming.
“Dawn of a new Middle East” – this is how the Bahraini daily “Al-Watan” (Das Land) gave a poetic title to a report on the peace agreement with Israel. It is indeed a new Middle East in which the pro-government newspaper of a Gulf state celebrates friendship with its long-standing enemy. After the United Arab Emirates (UAE) broke the ice in August and announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, the small island nation of Bahrain followed suit last week.
On Tuesday, representatives of the three states met with US President Donald Trump in Washington to sign the so-called “Abraham Agreement”. “The Middle East has been held back by conflict and suspicion,” said Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani during the ceremony in front of the White House. “But I am convinced that we now have the opportunity to change that.”
Rejection of the old peace formula
In Israel, the double peace treaty is celebrated as a historic breakthrough. “This is a new era of peace,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video address at the weekend. According to the motto “Peace for Peace” – at the same time a reminder and rejection of the old formula “Land for Peace”, which was once used by the Israeli left in the Conflict with the Palestinians, but has few supporters in today’s Israel.
However, only vague letters of intent were signed and details are still being negotiated. The plans include the opening of embassies, the expansion of previously secret trade relations, direct flights and security cooperation. Observers also suspect that the two Gulf states will be rewarded for their concession with security guarantees and arms deliveries from Washington. This probably also includes the sale of F-35 “Lightning II” fighter jets to the Emirates, which the USA insists on despite Israeli protests.
The symbolic effect of the agreements is enormous, after all, the Arab states, with the exception of Egypt and Jordan, had been demanding for decades that Israel must first grant the Palestinians a state before it could dream of peace with the Arab world. It was an open secret that some Gulf states presented themselves primarily verbally as fighters for the Palestinian cause, but at the same time maintained a lively exchange with Israeli companies and secret service agents.
Nonetheless, the readiness of the UAE and Bahrains to drop their mask in front of everyone shows how much their strategic priorities have shifted. Economic and technological exchange, the struggle with Iran and an upscale reputation in Washington count to the two monarchies more than their long-damaged credibility as supporters of the Palestinian cause. Representatives of both states emphasized that the agreement with Israel would also serve the Palestinians. In the region, however, this is unlikely to impress.
Naughty Israeli TV reporter
As expected, the Palestinians protested against the agreement. “The Palestinian leadership sees this as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” said a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Videos are circulating on social media showing men in Gaza pictures of the Set the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, on fire. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani yesterday reprimanded the UAE and Bahrain as “servants of the USA”. And: “Where is your sympathy for the Palestinian brothers?”
Meanwhile, television viewers in the UAE were already getting a taste of Israeli chutzpah. Before the signing of the contract in Washington, Israeli reporter Dana Weiss disturbed a journalist from the Emirates during a live broadcast, tapped him on the shoulder and asked: “We’re also on the air right now, can we take a picture together?” the presenter in the home studio advised her not to disturb this colleague, she did not stop.
Israeli Twitter users commented on the scene with shame and mockery: “Dana Weiss is doing everything in her power,” wrote one, “to boycott the peace agreement.”