Decades after the beginning of the Arab-Israeli conflict, peace deals have begun to occur in very quick succession. The Economist described the situation as 7 decades of ostracism and conflict struck down by a few signatures in a few days, as the UAE and Bahrain signed historic peace agreements with Israel in the White House.
The magazine confirmed that with these signings, Israel has doubled the number of Arab countries with whom it has formal relations with. Additionally, Israel also has informal relations with a number of Arab countries. President Donald Trump revealed that there are up to 5 Arab countries that will follow suit by signing peace deals.
It has been over 4 decades since the Arab army has fought with Israel. The conflict has all but faded away. Most Arabs tend to sympathize with Palestinians and their cause. However, rising political and economic issues, as well as conflicts with Turkey and Iran, have caused sympathies with the Palestinian cause to reach record lows.
The Economist points out that despite UAE being the initiator of the peace deal with Israel, the Bahraini peace deal might be the more interesting one. The United Arab Emirates were never worried about the popularity of their decision, as they are strong enough to ignore criticism of foreign countries such as Iran and Turkey and having no internal opposition of their own. Bahrainis, on the other hand, have a history of protesting against normalization. Despite some risks of apprehension for strong dissenters, protestors in Bahrain have much more room to express their opposition.
The UAE and Bahrain officials signed the peace deal—named “Abraham”—with Israel under the sponsorship of the United States inside the White House. Trump said in an address in front of a large audience that “Abraham” will be the basis of a comprehensive peace deal in the region. The countries that sign the agreement will exchange ambassadors with Israel’s and open up respective embassies. Trump concluded by saying: “After decades of division and conflict, we are witnessing the dawn of a new Middle East.”
As many continue to speculate at to how these deals came about in these times and in close succession after decades of seemingly no progress, experts point towards the forgotten “Deal of the Century” sponsored by Trump in the beginning of this year 2020. The dismissed and long forgotten deal played a crucial role in the advancement of peace talks with the Arab world despite it being immediately dismissed by the Palestinian authorities. It was called “The Slap of the Century” by Mahmoud Abbas, “The Steal of the Century” by the Economist, and “The Joke of the Century” by a Haaretz commentator.
In reality, the proposed deal that offered Palestinians more than $50bn in economic development aimed to prove once and for all to the Arab nations that the Palestinian authorities are not interested in peace. After these Arab countries offered full contribution and effort into fostering the best possible deal for the Palestinians under their current circumstances, their efforts were met with complete apathy. Today this apathy is being reciprocated. Peace with Israel will have beneficial results to these Arab states that they have forgone for decades. Today, and through Donald Trump’s peace plan, they are beginning to move away from this endless conflict. They have understood that there is nothing to achieve by further mediation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
There is no doubt that “Abraham” will cause a domino effect in the region, and Trump has already alluded to that. Every Arab country now has a decision to make. A decision of whether to leave behind of be left behind. As Iran and Turkey appear to be the only nations vocal against this deal in the region, Arab countries are poised to hold together in their future decisions.