On Aug 13, Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to end decades of hostility and normalize relations. The agreement was brokered by, and announced by President Trump, who called it, “a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure and prosperous Middle East.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. This is not a peace agreement. It is a war pact, and a dagger aimed at Palestinian people. It signifies that the Emirates have formally switched sides, and joined Israel and its Washington backers in the war against all that is progressive in the Middle East, against Iran and most especially against the Palestinian people.
The “peace” was brokered by two U.S. clients over the strong objections of all Palestinian groups. Not one Palestinian group was even consulted. It sets the ugly precedent that to make a Palestinian peace deal, no Palestinian needs to be involved.
There is no doubt that the agreement was timed to bolster the careers of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as against their political rivals. However, much more to the point, the agreement furthers U.S. imperialist domination of the area. This is why Democratic Party Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has given the deal his enthusiastic support.
Israel made no concessions
To sugar coat the pact, the Emirates and Trump claimed that, in exchange for diplomatic relations, they wrested from Israel an agreement that it would postpone its planned annexation of parts of the West Bank. But this was just not the case. Even Israeli Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said that the annexation had been suspended before the normalization deal. And hours after the agreement was announced, Netanyahu said he remained “committed to annexing parts of the West Bank.”
The UAE made peace with Israel without getting anything, not even a promise, in return. Netanyahu told Israel HaYom newspaper, “For the first time in a quarter of a century, we are making peace not on the basis of Israeli concessions and withdrawals, as was the case with Egypt and Jordan.” This rubber stamps the Israeli state’s constant aggression against the Palestinian people, and lets it know that it may count on the UAE to raise no objection as it continues its land grabs, bombardments of and persecution of the Palestinians.
‘We are nobody’s fig leaf’
The entire Palestinian population opposes the normalization of relations. Over the weekend Palestinians demonstrators in East Jerusalem burned pictures of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crowned prince of Abu Dhabi. On the West Bank hundreds protested, carrying banners calling the agreement “a gift to the Israel occupation” and a “stab in the back.” Israeli soldiers confiscated banners and prevented protesters from raising Palestinian flags.
The Palestine Authority’s immediate response was to issue a statement that its “leadership affirms that the UAE, or any other party, has no right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people.” PA President Mahmoud Abbas recalled his envoy from the Emerites and described the deal an “aggression” against the Palestinian people and a “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause.
Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Twitter, “Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation. The UAE has come out in the open on its secret dealings/normalization with Israel. Please don’t do us a favor. We are nobody’s fig leaf!”
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem, called the deal “a reward for Israeli occupation and crimes.” Fawzi Barhoum, also from Hamas, added, “Normalization is a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and it serves only the Israeli occupation.”
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Deputy Secretary General Abu Ahmad Fuad called the deal a crime against the Palestinian people and their martyrs, adding “It is the Palestinian people who prevent further annexation of their lands by Israel, not the UAE and its leaders.”
Jewish groups denounce agreement
Progersive Jewish groups have hit the agreement. Stefanie Fox, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said, “Until Israel is no longer oppressing Palestinians and violating their rights, building illegal settlements, maintaining an apartheid regime and attacking human rights defenders —Trump and Netanyahu’s latest ploy, aided and abetted by the UAE, is nothing more than theatrics.”
The U.S. Jewish youth group IfNotNow added, “After months of mounting pressure against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s annexation plans from around the world, this treaty–recognizing the informal ties that have existed between Israel and the UAE for years–gives Netanyahu diplomatic cover to say that he stopped formal annexation of the West Bank.”
How Israeli is being let off the hook
The Palestine Boycott Divest Sanction National Committee, representing Palestinian civil society, explained that the deal was announced as Israel bombed Gaza and attacked Palestinians on the West Bank. “Irrespective of how Netanyahu and Trump decide to handle or spin formal annexation, the UAE claim is a sham: Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and its illegal settlement enterprise are continuing unabated, entrenching its de facto annexation and apartheid regime. This includes, massacres; ethnic cleansing, especially in Jerusalem, the Naqab and the Jordan Valley; the siege of Gaza; home demolitions; destruction of ancient olive groves; destruction or appropriation of cultural and archeological heritage; and denial of fundamental rights protected in international law.”
BDS has called for an increased boycott activity against Israel and the results of this agreement. Find more information here.
UAE known for oppression, supporting reactionary groups
The UAE is the first Gulf Arab state to have open ties with Israel, and the third Arab country, following Jordan and Egypt. Other Gulf states are expected to follow suit.
The regime has an abysmal record on human rights, is known for arbitrary detentions, and for racism and discrimination against migrant workers, who make up 90 percent of the workforce.
Despite a pledge not to make peace with Israel until Israel make peace with the Palestinians, the regime has had covert relations with Israel for some time, including purchasing billions of dollars worth of Israeli security and military equipment from 2007 to 2015.
The UAE is part of the U.S.-Saudi coalition conducting the criminal war against the people of Yemen. It, and other Gulf regimes, have supported reactionary, divisive and disruptive forces in Libya, Syria and Iraq. They claim that the many millions of Shia Moslems in the Middle East, especially those espousing worker rights or national sovereignty are “agents of Iran,” and that Iran is the “greatest danger” to the area, not Israel.
Openly switching to the pro-Israel and pro-imperialist side will give the UAE better access to U.S. intelligence and military hardware to support its military interventions and pursue its sectarian dominance in the region. It gives the U.S. more leverage against Iran. This is why Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department’s lead official on Iran, called the pact a “nightmare” for Iran.
Joe Biden praises agreement
By signing this deal with Israel, the UAE has certainly helped both Trump and Netanyahu to boost their faltering political careers by claiming the accord as a diplomatic coup, and as a success of their “Deal of the Century.” This crass attempt to impose unilateral, pro-Israel conditions on the Palestinian people has been vehemently opposed by grass roots organizations internationally.
But this is not just a partisan effort to get votes. Getting an Arab country to openly ally with Israel advances U.S. imperialism’s overall strategic interests in the Middle East, tightening its grip there. This is why Joe Biden, with the disclaimer of opposing annexation, has hailed the accord as “a historic step to bridge the deep divides of the Middle East,” calling the UAE’s public recognization of the State of Israel “a welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship.”
Imperialism’s strategic interests advanced
This agreement lines up Washington’s clients in that area on the same side, openly coordinating against the Palestinian people, Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and all seeking workers rights, self-determination and sovereignty in this oil rich and strategic area. It’s right there in the agreement: “Israel and the United Arab Emirates will join with the United States to launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation. Along with the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement, increased economic integration, and closer security coordination.”