Emirates Peace with Israel Makes Change in the Region
Palestinians protest against the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on August 16 in the northern Gaza Strip. (Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Emirates Peace with Israel Makes Change in the Region

Al-Etihad, UAE, September 3

The state of chronic failure in managing regional and national issues within the Arab world has existed since the establishment of the Arab League in 1945. Throughout the years, the league has failed at keeping pace with political changes and demonstrated stiffness in its thinking and approach toward regional issues. One of the biggest “victims” of this mentality has been the Palestinian cause, which for 72 years has been relegated to the bottom of the Arab agenda. The Arab world failed at distinguishing between what is a desirable political outcome and what is feasible. Arab leaders became experts at speaking about the Palestinian issue and criticizing the positions of others without providing any help of their own. One of the Arab world’s first mistakes was to reject UN Resolution 191, passed in 1947, which sought to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. While the majority of countries in the world, including the major superpowers, recognized and supported the resolution, Arab leaders chose to stick to Arab nationalism and Arab pride, turning it down. To make matters worse, the Arab world didn’t learn from its mistake and seek to fix it. At the 1967 Arab League summit, held in Khartoum, the Arab world issued the three no’s: no to peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel, and no to negotiations with Israel. It was only 35 years later, during the League’s 2002 summit in Beirut, that the Arab world finally changed its position thanks to the efforts of [Saudi] King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, and laid out a vision for a comprehensive peace with Israel. The United Arab Emirates has always been straightforward and transparent about its policies. Our leaders have never been afraid to take firm and courageous decisions. They also have never relinquished their sense of genuine Arabism. Because the UAE is a free, sovereign and independent country, it has never experienced the need to defend its positions. The UAE succeeded in obtaining a commitment from Israel that it will stop annexing more Palestinian lands in exchange for peace. In doing so, it actually promotes the Palestinian cause while other countries only pretend to do so. There is now a small window of opportunity for other Arab countries to follow in the Emirates’ footsteps and invest in peace with Israel. The UAE’s initiative with Israel is the last chance to ensure the existence of the two-state solution. The UAE has been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause since 1967. It embraced the Palestinian people in various forms and through various means, and never failed to fulfill its national duty toward all Arab issues, including the Palestinian one. Today, the UAE aims to achieve what the Palestinian leadership has failed to do for decades: ensure a pathway toward Palestinian statehood. With its new peace initiative, the UAE is able to promote negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians from a position of strength, not weakness. With the United States by its side, the UAE can leverage its agreement with Israel to finally establish peace and stability in a region that has suffered from war for too many years. – Omar Al-Bitar (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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