The UAE-Israel Peace Accord: Walk Over Talk
Israel’s regional posture of deterrence and global high tech prominence motivated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to conclude the August 13, 2020 peace accord with Israel.
The same Israeli features have prompted the pro-US Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, as well as Jordan and Egypt, to dramatically expand their security and commercial cooperation with Israel.
The UAE considers strategic cooperation with Israel in general, and the peace accord in particular, a critical added-value to its line of defense (second only to the US) against lethal threats such as Iran’s conventional and terror offensive, persistent Muslim Brotherhood terrorism, ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorism, Turkey’s operational and logistic support of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Turkey’s military base (5,000 soldiers) in pro-Iran Qatar. The UAE, as well as all other pro-US Arab regimes, recognize Israel as the most effective and reliable “life insurance agent” in the region.
These rogue elements have become regional and global epicenters of Islamic terrorism and drug trafficking in Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North and Central Africa, and South and Central America, with sleeper cells in the US.
Israel’s posture of deterrence and growing cooperation with all pro-US Arab regimes has spared the US the need to deploy more aircraft carriers and ground forces in the Middle East and neighboring regions.
The UAE has become a leader in the Arab battle against global Islamic terrorism (following years of the UAE financing Islamic terrorism), targeting 82 Islamic terror organizations, which operate in Germany, Norway, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, the Persian Gulf, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, etc.
The UAE values Israel as a unique source of counter-terrorism intelligence, planning, training, and supply of advanced counter-terrorism systems.
The UAE is the second-largest economy in the Middle East, with the seventh-largest proven oil reserves in the world, and very successful in transitioning its economy from an oil-based (mostly Abu-Dhabi) to a diversified economy (mostly Dubai). Therefore, the UAE regards Israel’s achievements in commercial high tech, agriculture, irrigation, medicine, and health as a useful platform to bolster the diversification of the economies of its seven federated Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al Quwain.
Since the UAE and Israel share significant geo-strategic challenges and threats, the UAE is anxious to leverage Israel’s positive standing among the US population in general, and among US Senators and Representatives in particular.
The official UAE announcement of the peace accord highlights the wide gap between Arab talk and Arab walk. Thus, the intangible UAE talk stipulated that the normalization of ties with Israel aims at halting the application of Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). However, the tangible UAE walk involves a substantial enhancement of security and commercial cooperation with Israel, notwithstanding the rough Palestinian protestation.
The UAE decision to establish official peace with Israel, while there is no progress on the Israel-Palestinian front, documents the Arab walk on the Palestinian issue, which is considered very low — and even negative — on their order of priorities.
The secondary/marginal role of the Palestinian issue on the intra-Arab agenda — irrespective of the pro-Palestinian Arab talk — was also evidenced by the 1979 Israel-Egypt and 1994 Israel-Jordan peace accords, as well as the enhancement of Israel’s geo-strategic ties with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait, in defiance of Palestinian objections and threats.
Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, Israel should not suspend/expunge the decision to apply its law to the Jordan Valley and the over-powering mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria as a gesture to the UAE. The UAE decision was not driven by philo-Israel sentiments, but by UAE national security priorities, which does not require an Israeli gesture that devastates Israel’s own regional posture of deterrence and national security.
Moreover, the aim of the UAE-Israel peace treaty is to deter rogue regimes, minimize regional instability, and enhance the national security of the UAE and all other pro-US Arab regimes.
Thus, Israel’s control of the Jordan Valley and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria constitutes a prerequisite for its effective posture of deterrence, which has played a critical role in deterring anti-US rogue elements throughout the Middle East, from Iran to the Mediterranean and North Africa. Furthermore, it has reduced lethal threats to the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan and to the pro-US regimes in the Arabian Peninsula south of Jordan.
The UAE walk — not the UAE talk — suggests that the US and Israel should not base their national security policy on the philo-Palestinian Arab talk, which misrepresents Middle East reality. Responsible policy should be based on the Arab walk, which reflects the secondary/marginal role of the Palestinian issue in the reality of the Middle East.
Moreover, responsible policy requires tenacity and decisiveness — not hesitancy and indecision — when it comes to the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, the cradle of Jewish history, culture, religion, and language.
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative.