Arab normalisation with Israel in 500 phrases | Israel
The trip to Saudi Arabia reported on Sunday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follows the theme of unprecedented relations between Arab countries and Israel.
In the second half of 2020, the normalization of relations accelerated: the “Abraham Accords” were signed with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in August, followed a month later by Bahrain, and the Sudanese interim government announced normalization of relations with Israel on in October.
However, several Sudanese political parties have opposed normalization, and Sudan’s incumbent foreign minister said the deal needed to be approved by the legislative council that is yet to be formed.
Mediated by the Trump administration, the agreements broke years of consensus among most Arab states that said any official recognition of Israel depends on the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories and the establishment of the two-state solution at the 1967 borders.
Before August, only two Arab countries had official relations with Israel – Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
The Palestinian leadership condemned the normalization agreements between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan as “a tricky stab in the Palestinian cause”.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), based in the occupied West Bank, withdrew from the Arab League in protest and called back its ambassadors in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
However, after Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election, he reinstated both ambassadors and announced a return to security coordination with Israel earlier this year in protest against President Donald Trump’s proposed Middle East plan, which was largely in favor of Israel.
This move reset efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation between the Hamas government in Gaza and the PA in the West Bank, which analysts said were forged in the face of increasing regional isolation.
While Saudi Arabia has not yet officially recognized relations with Israel, it has toned down its rhetoric and, more than once, has expressed a desire to normalize relations.
At the same time, Riyadh continues the official line of not recognizing Israel until a two-state solution has been agreed with occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Bilateral Relations and US Arms
Netanyahu has been Israel’s prime minister for the past decade, marked by the lack of substantive peace talks between the Israeli government and the PA.
Instead, the lives of the Palestinians have deteriorated, with several offensives in the besieged Gaza Strip killing thousands and the rampant construction of illegal settlements and land expropriation in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Instead, Netanyahu focused on building relationships with regional states.
The deal with the UAE, an oil-rich country with significant regional influence, is seen as a historic breakthrough that could transform the region. The two states have already agreed to waive visa requirements for each other’s citizens and have signed a number of bilateral agreements on investment, tourism, direct flights, security and telecommunications.
The UAE has set its eyes on the purchase of the US-made F-35 fighter jets, which could potentially change the balance of power in the region.
Israel is the only country in the region that has F-35s but has ceased opposition to the sale to the UAE after declaring the US had assured it that Israel’s military superiority would be maintained.