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Jumat, 14 Agustus 2020

Israel-UAE peace deal a triumph for Donald Trump and ‘Trump-whisperer’ Benjamin Netanyahu - The Australian

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to an historic peace deal brokered by US President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in January. Picture: AFP
US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in January. Picture: AFP

The peace deal and establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is a huge triumph for Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu. 

It is the first peace treaty between an Arab state and Israel since that with Jordan in 1994. It is only the third ever peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation, after Egypt and Jordan.

The deal is a tribute to the way Netanyahu has managed his relationship with Trump, writes Greg Sheridan. Picture: AFP
The deal is a tribute to the way Netanyahu has managed his relationship with Trump, writes Greg Sheridan. Picture: AFP

Netanyahu has promised as part of the deal to indefinitely suspend declaring Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.

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It is a tribute too to the pragmatic leadership of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed.

Netanyahu used the Muslim expression to wish the Crown Prince “peace unto you and peace to us”.

Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden, hailed the deal as a historic move for peace. It is in its way a revolutionary moment in politics as well as the diplomatic equations of the Middle East.

Might there be something to Donald Trump’s approach after all? This is vastly more constructive than anything that happened in the Middle East under the presidency of Barack Obama.

In terms of Middle East peace deals, it is Trump 1, Obama 0.

Indeed if Obama had secured anything as useful as this, surely Nobel prizes would have been insufficient recognition for him. Surely beatification would have followed.

But this deal could not have come about under Obama because the Israelis didn’t trust Obama.

Not only that, the Obama White House would have thought diplomatic recognition of Israel by its neighbours was leverage to be withheld until Israel made further concessions or endorsed the Obama approach to peace making, which the Israeli government always thought compromised its security.

Barack Obama with Netanyahu in 2013. Picture: AFP
Barack Obama with Netanyahu in 2013. Picture: AFP

The Trump approach of being very close to Israel gives Jerusalem the security to pursue pragmatic relations with its Gulf state neighbours.

When the rulers of the Arab Gulf states look around them they see threats mainly from Iran, from Islamist extremists and to some extent from the internal polarisations between Sunni and Shia Muslims. They don’t see threat coming from Israel.

In fact, they see Israel as a source of help. This radical change in Middle East realities also shows that all the conventional analysis on the Israel/Palestine dispute of the last couple of years is not worth a pinch of salt.

All the denunciations, florid or learned, of Trump moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and how this would rule out any progress on peace while ever Trump was in office and the move was not reversed, is now seen as pure baloney.

Of course, a huge amount of credit goes to Netanyahu. He has pragmatically pursued working relations at every level with similarly pragmatic Gulf states and other Arab states further afield such as Morocco.

He didn’t require political concessions from them. They didn’t require political concessions from him.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Picture: AFP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Picture: AFP

The deal will be seen as a historic victory in Israel but will give Netanyahu some domestic political problems nonetheless.

Mainly in order to encourage Jewish settlers in the West Bank to vote for him, Netanyahu went into the last Israeli election promising some level of Israeli annexation of some amount of West Bank territory, though it was always unclear whether this would involve just the main Jewish settlement blocs or go further.

It was also unclear, frankly, whether it would ever happen as Netanyahu is a past master of suggesting, perhaps even threatening, tough action but being mostly pretty cautious in what he actually does.

US contributor Michael Ware says the “historic” arrangement brokered between Israel and the United Arab Emirates by President Donald Trump is “not a Middle East peace plan” but a “brick in the road”.

Now this annexation is on indefinite hold and he will likely suffer some loss in settler support. But this is a risk Netanyahu is more than willing to embrace.

The whole deal is also a tribute to the way Netanyahu has managed his relationship with Trump. Along with Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Netanyahu is the most effective Trump whisperer in world politics.

For American left liberals, the result is truly horrific, surely their worst nightmare: could it be that Trump is actually right about the Middle East and they are wrong?

Foreign Editor

Melbourne

Greg Sheridan, The Australian's foreign editor, is one of the nation's most influential national security commentators, who is active across television and radio and also writes extensively on culture. He has w...

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2020-08-14 09:52:00Z
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