In December 2016, days before US President Barack Obama stepped down, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “there would be no separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and Palestinian peace.”
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Kerry’s prediction that no Arab country would follow Egypt and Jordan in making peace agreements with Israel in the absence of a Palestinian state was international consensus at the time.
“Everyone needs to understand this. It’s a hard reality,” Kerry declared.
But when Donald Trump took over the presidency, this bitter reality did not turn out to be so bitter.
In September 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain publicly signed historic agreements formalizing their relationship with Israel – the Abrahamic Agreement. In contrast, the Peace to Prosperity Plan (PPP), a parallel US-led effort to negotiate a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, failed at the start of the year. But that didn’t stop the Abrahamic Agreement from moving forward, and the conclusion of similar agreements with Israel, Sudan and Morocco were just weeks apart. The Abrahamic Agreements now appear to be a permanent feature of the regional landscape, resulting in an increasing number of political, commercial and cultural agreements between Israel and these four Arab countries.
Jason Greenblatt, appointed by President Trump as his special envoy for the Middle East, was one of the main architects of the Abraham Accords. In his new book, Greenblatt describes how he and his Trump administration allies have successfully demonstrated that peace between Arab states and Israel is possible, even when the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is stalled. The book sets out the thinking behind this dissection of the Palestinian and Arab dialogue tracks and argues that the Abrahamic Agreements are ultimately a template for cementing Israel’s place as a fully accepted partner in the region.
Greenblatt and other key figures in talks with Arab leaders, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, were aware of the profound changes in the region, where Israel was no longer regarded as a “Pandora’s Box”, where All political, economic and social crisis has arisen from this. He recognized that the regional revolutions and civil wars of the last decade were unrelated to Israel and that the external actors fueling insecurity and instability in the region were not Israel, but Iran. The Arab states, they write, were looking for a way to “pivot” Iran. So he strongly welcomed President Trump’s strong opposition to Tehran, especially his rejection of the Iran nuclear deal.
While Arab sympathy for the Palestinians and support for them to achieve their own state remained strong, Greenblatt found widespread Arab impatience with the Palestinian leadership in both Ramallah and Gaza and continued to veto them on building beneficial relations with Israel. reluctance to Greenblatt points out that these factors made the region ripe for a new US policy on regional peace based on a switch from the traditional “inside-out” approach – the Israeli-Palestinian issue being addressed before any movement on comprehensive regional peace. work to solve. “Outside-in” Policy – Putting regional peace first.
Greenblatt sees no contradiction between a steadfast support for Israel’s security and a just and, importantly, realistic agreement with the Palestinians, as the basis of any peace agreement. Although this “realistic” approach to peacebuilding was welcomed by the wider Arab world, it did not attract the Palestinian leadership. For the Trump team, major changes, such as US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, were merely a recognition of reality. But for the Palestinians it was an unfair reward for an alleged rebel Israeli PM Netanyahu.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain’s FM Abdullatif Al Zayani and UAE’s FM Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan from the balcony of the White House, September 15, 2020 (Reuters)
While clauses in the PPP Greenblatt knew it would be difficult for the Palestinians to accept – such as Israel’s control of the Jordan Valley and existing settlements in exchange for the Palestinians gaining some land in Israel – he insisted that the plan be prepared in good faith. and offered a path to a safer and more prosperous future for the Palestinians. He regretted that the Palestinian leadership expressed the hope that the plan would be “born dead” before it was even seen.
“What kind of leadership who wants a better life for its people would say such things?” he asks.
Recognizing that the Israel-Palestinian talks are, for now, “on the back burner”, Greenblatt is clearly the success of the Trump team’s symbolic approach to traditional norms of Middle East diplomacy and its success in concluding a “warm” peace. like to. Agreements between Israel and Arab politicians, business leaders and people. His achievements have also received praise from Arab countries, which have not yet publicly made peace with Israel. Qatar’s foreign minister, where the Al Jazeera channel has sharply criticized the Abrahamic Agreement, credited Greenblatt with “sincere dedication to achieving peace”, while acknowledging differences over how to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. .
Greenblatt’s book deals with more issues than personality. This is a highly thought-out task, not a complete account of the ups and downs of the negotiation process. Readers will see in vain any succinct anecdotes or scandalous off-the-record comments left by the interlocutors. He doesn’t even go into the details of the conversation. When the Abraham Agreement was signed, it was widely reported that the US had offered Netanyahu to the UAE to recognize Israel in exchange for suspending Israel’s accession of the West Bank. But there is no mention of it in the book.
Greenblatt accused the Obama administration of conducting “ostrich diplomacy” in concluding a nuclear deal with Iran, which allowed Iran to deal with terrorism and terrorism in the region by providing sanctions relief in exchange for only a temporary halt to Iran’s nuclear program. allowed to promote instability. He is concerned that the Biden administration may fall into the same trap and notes that it initially tried to deny the importance of the Abraham Accords, although now displays a more positive outlook.
Widespread international hostility for Donald Trump has affected the extraordinary success of his administration in ending the Abrahamic Agreement. But over time, both the current US administration and the wider world will undoubtedly appreciate the positive impact of the growing political, economic and cultural ties between Israel and a growing number of Arab states.
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