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Thawing relations with the UAE good news, no matter who takes the credit



In my letter to the SA Jewish Report on 18 June criticising the pending annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel and citing warming relations with the European Union and some Arab countries, I wrote that Trump isn’t good for Israel in spite of all that he is perceived to have done. Thankfully, the annexation didn’t take place. It has been put on ice due to the announcement of strengthening ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The announcement is indeed good news and if it can hold, will be of great benefit to the region and perhaps an incentive for more to follow.

The “breaking news” by Trump together with an assembly of his inner circle including Kushner was so contrived and so noticeably staged to enhance his failing image, it was almost laughable. There was much commentary on international news channels about the behind-the-scenes relations between the Gulf States and Israel, who never miss the opportunity to malign Israel’s “brutal occupation”, as well as condemnation from the Palestinians and other hardline Arab quarters.

Trump and Netanyahu, two of the most despised world leaders by the international press, are fodder for negative comment on their own. But a theory was put forward that this deal was engineered by Netanyahu through his announcement of annexation a while back, which created a frenzy of condemnation from so many quarters, then stalled for a few weeks, and suddenly there was “breaking news”, with Trump taking all the credit. Perhaps it was a form of payback by Netanyahu to help bolster Trump’s image at home as well as garner more support from the United States prior to the upcoming elections in the US. A plausible theory, nevertheless. It gains some traction insofar as it shows the Arab world that it was the US and not any direct contact with Israel that consummated the arrangement, demonstrating the arms-length attitude towards Israel.

One can conjure any number of theories, what’s important is that the world is growing weary with the Israeli-Palestinian problem and this move, in spite of that naysayer Ben Wedeman of CNN, gives hope to the revival of the two-state solution which must ultimately come to fruition if there is ever to be a peaceful co-existence in the region, especially in the post COVID-19 era.

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