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CurrentMiddle East

The UAE-Israel Peace Agreement: Normalising the Abandonment of Palestine

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CurrentMiddle East

The UAE-Israel Peace Agreement: Normalising the Abandonment of Palestine

Few countries have spoken out in favour of normalisation – Bahrain, Egypt, and Oman have not held back from praising the deal. Bahrain issued a statement announcing it will allow all flights from the UAE to cross its airspace, thus including Israeli flights.

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Few countries have spoken out in favour of normalisation – Bahrain, Egypt, and Oman have not held back from praising the deal. Bahrain issued a statement announcing it will allow all flights from the UAE to cross its airspace, thus including Israeli flights.

The US-brokered UAE-Israeli normalisation agreement should not have come as a surprise. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been adamant that the Palestinian cause is no longer a priority for Arab and Gulf states. His analysis, unfortunately, is correct.

While the UAE is currently in the spotlight for normalising relations with Israel in return for postponing the planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, White House Adviser Jared Kushner has stated that all Arab countries will eventually follow suit. Egypt has established ties with Israel in 1979 and Jordan’s treaty with Israel was signed in 1994.

Normalisation, after all, is just a formality when considering the gradual abandonment of Palestine in the region. Other countries will follow suit because they have nothing to lose. Meanwhile, Palestine is lost in a process that the international community formalised through the 1947 Partition Plan. 

Only days after the so-called “historic flight” of an Israeli aeroplane to the United Arab Emirates, for which Saudi Arabia allowed access to its airspace, the kingdom announced it will be opening its airspace for regular flights to Tel Aviv. Saudi Arabia has been touted as the next country to normalise relations with Israel.

As the international community celebrated the normalisation deal’s postponement of annexation, the two-state compromise and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 returned to the limelight. For the UN, the UAE-Israeli deal spelled a possible return to diplomatic negotiations through which the institution can once again exert its influence. The Arab Peace Initiative, on the other hand, contains a convenient clause regarding normalisation of relations with Israel. Unfortunately for the Palestinian people, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is promoting both paradigms, neither of which offers Palestinian political rights and autonomy. 

To begin with, the two-state compromise normalises Israeli colonisation. This has been a major impediment for the Palestinian people since Israel is not called out as a colonial entity and all human rights violations have been divested of the colonial context. The UN accepted Israel’s designation as a country, despite this being built upon stolen land and ethnic cleansing. Such normalisation led to Israel establishing international relations, while Palestinians have become an appendage to their own story.

The Arab Peace Initiative also backs the two-state paradigm. In this way, Arab and Gulf states have aligned themselves with the international community while carving out their own process of normalising relations with Israel. A clause which Arab countries no longer feel beholden to stipulates that normalising relations with Israel can occur in the aftermath of the two-state compromise being implemented. 

Few countries have spoken out in favour of normalisation – Bahrain, Egypt, and Oman have not held back from praising the deal. Bahrain issued a statement announcing it will allow all flights from the UAE to cross its airspace, thus including Israeli flights. In light of the fact that the UAE-Israeli deal gave the international community a much-needed respite from annexation, there is scant scrutiny regarding how countries opposing the normalisation deal have still opted for normalising Israel through promoting the two-state compromise and the Arab Peace Initiative. 

Speaking out against annexation in terms of the two-state compromise did not deter normalisation. To put it succinctly, the two-state compromise caters for normalising Israel and excluding Palestinians from politics. The PA has not made this distinction and opted to promote Palestine’s marginalisation by speaking out against the UAE-Israeli normalisation deal from the two-state framework. In creating a new narrative over normalisation and singling out the current deal, the PA, alongside the international community, is promoting the more subtle forms of normalising Israel at the expense of Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the discourse regarding annexation has all but faded from the previous prominence, until  Netanyahu and his allies deem that enough time has passed to implement new legislation that formalises its colonisation of Palestinian land. 

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