The dramatic move: more details about what took place behind the scenes

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A huge diplomatic agreement was signed last night (Thursday) between Israel and the United Arab Emirates through the mediation of the US State Department. US President Donald Trump announced in a special statement issued by the White House that Israel and the UAE would sign a “full normalization of relations” and that in return Israel would for the time being relinquish a “declaration of sovereignty” over territories in the West Bank.

Once signed, the agreement will make the Emirates the third Arab country to have official diplomatic relations with Israel along with Egypt, which signed a peace agreement in 1979, and Jordan, which signed an agreement in 1994. The agreement may renew the long stalemate in the region, An increasingly official alliance with Israel against the common enemy – Iran, while removing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s annexation plan from the table, at least for now.

“This deal is a significant step toward building a more peaceful, secure and prosperous Middle East,” Trump told reporters in a briefing that took place from moment to moment and without planning in the Oval Office. “Now that the ice has broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries to follow the UAE leadership.”

The agreement, however, provoked an immediate severance in the region on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Settlement leaders were disappointed that Netanyahu would give up his plan to impose sovereignty over West Bank territory, while Palestinians felt abandoned by an Arab nation that left them imprisoned in a status quo even without the threat of annexation.

“This is a black day in the history of Palestine,” Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said in an interview shortly before the PA ambassador was instructed to return home from the Emirates. “This agreement is a complete departure from the Arab consensus. The Palestinian people have not allowed anyone to make concessions to Israel in exchange for anything. ”

This is not the end of the ceremony, President Trump wants to make it official and get a tripartite picture of him with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirate ruler Muhammad bin Ziad, for which he plans to hold a ceremonial signing ceremony at the White House in the coming weeks.

The content of the agreement was presented after the announcement, when the United Arab Emirates claimed that it was conditional on Israel fulfilling its commitment to waive the annexation, although Netanyahu stressed that this was only a temporary respite and that the plan to annex it still existed.

“This is a historic evening,” Netanyahu said at a news conference. “Today began a new era in the State of Israel’s relations with the Arab world.” President Reuven Rivlin invited Prince Muhammad to visit Jerusalem, while the Tel Aviv-Yafo City Hall was illuminated with Israeli and Emirate flags.

Prince Muhammad bin Ziad, for his part, emphasized his achievement in suspending the annexation plan. “During a conversation with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to end the Israeli annexation of the Palestinian territories,” he wrote. “The United Arab Emirates and Israel have also agreed on cooperation and a roadmap for establishing a bilateral relationship.”

The rapprochement between the countries underscored the changing political dynamics of an area where moderate Sunni Arab states increasingly see Iran as a greater enemy than Israel, and are less willing to condition their relations on resolving the conflict with the Palestinians. The Mossad has for years invested in secret relations with the Gulf states, and the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, often meets with colleagues in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt, according to the Washington Post, quoted by intelligence sources.

As mentioned, Sultan Qaboos bin Said from Oman hosted Prime Minister Netanyahu on a state visit in 2018, a visit that RMS Yossi Cohen successfully mediated, even though the two countries do not have diplomatic relations, and the Kingdom of Bahrain hosted a White House peace conference last year. – Palestinian.

The two Gulf states can follow the UAE with the establishment of relations with Israel, but the big player remains Saudi Arabia, the richest country in the Arab world.

Analysts have said they suspect Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the kingdom’s almighty ruler, would want to take such a step, but have so far refrained from doing so due to conservative elements in his country.

“There is a new elite in Saudi Arabia that would like to do the same, but they do not have the same freedom of movement that the country has as the emirates,” said Jasmine Farouk, a visiting researcher at the Carnegie Endowment Center for Peace.

The head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, has made a number of secret trips to the Emirates in the past year in order to improve cooperation, and the outbreak of the corona virus has created another opening. The Mossad took responsibility for the purchase of medical equipment that was lacking in Israel, and shipments arrived on secret flights from the Emirates. So according to the Washington Post.

After the Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, who worked closely with the Trump administration, wrote an article in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper and addressed Israelis, in Hebrew, “not to annex occupied territory.”

“The annexation will certainly transform, and immediately, all Israeli aspirations to improve security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and the United Arab Emirates,” al-Ottawa wrote at the time. The title was then and turned out to be correct for today it is “it is annexation or normalization”.

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and White House agenda setter, said of the agreement that “it proved a turning point, then we started a discussion with the UAE and said it might be something we can do.” said. “The Emirates was open to the idea.” He said, “That is why we approached the Israelis then, who also expressed a willingness to take this into account.” Talks were then held through Kushner and the Americans.

The negotiations took place in secret at the White House, and only a limited number of officials were aware of it. Thursday’s meetings and phone calls were omitted from the schedules or recorded in vague language, according to a government official. Kushner said an initial agreement was reached a week ago, and the final details were completed on Wednesday in what has been called the “Abraham Agreement,” after the common figure for Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Palestinian leaders have long opposed the normalization of relations between Israel and Arab countries because it would give legitimacy to the ongoing occupation, they claimed.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and said that the agreement “does not bind the Palestinian people.” Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, called the agreement “dangerous with freedom to occupy Israel for its crimes and violations at the expense of the Palestinian people.”

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