Experts' Comments

The Emirati-Israeli Treaty And its Potential Strategic Implications

EPC | 06 Sep 2020

The Emirati-Israeli Treaty And its Potential Strategic Implications

There is a near unanimity that the Emirati-Israeli peace treaty represents an important strategic shift, the reverberations of which has surpassed the Middle East region to other regions and the world. Several experts and analysts expect that this treaty will have key implications on the ties of two countries and the map of power redistribution in the region. The Emirates Policy Center (EPC) has organized a webinar to analyze and foresee the significance of this key event and its short and long-term consequences. Follows are some of the key intakes of what the participants have said:

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi

The Emirati-Israeli peace treaty was dubbed as a “historical moment” or a “historical breakthrough” because it is the first peace treaty between an Arab country and Israel in almost 25 years. It is known now that the Emirati-Israeli step was not out of the blue or out of the context. Like most, if not all, Arab countries, the UAE had unannounced contacts with Israel in the last decade. The UAE was one of the Arab countries that endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002. However, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process came to a grinding halt and the geo-political equation in the Middle East has changed. All of this has convinced the Emirati decision maker that the region needs new visions and approaches towards regional crises and problems, such as how to deal with Israel which shares the same region and objectives of stability, security and prosperity despite its stubbornness towards Palestinian rights.

Regardless of what has been said that the Emirati-Israeli peace treaty was a tradeoff for freezing the Israeli plan to annex 30% of the land of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley and the timing of announcing the treaty was for domestic political and electoral interests for both US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, what is important and essential is that the UAE has taken this step based on a full and rational realization of its strategic objectives and interests and its positive reflections on the whole region.

It is true that the UAE and Israel have no common borders and have never been at war with each other in the first place, however, the two countries look forward to cultivate the gains of developing their bilateral ties in various fields, notably, direct investments, trade, industry, advanced technology, telecommunications, tourism, health, the environment and other fields of cooperation. The two countries also hope to employ their rapprochement strategically, especially on regional issues where they have a common perception, equations of regional power and influence or their ties with the super power; i.e., the US.

Dr. Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, President of the Emirates Policy Center, and a Professor of Political Science at UAE University.

Zaid Eyadat

Zaid Eyadat

The Emirati-Israeli Peace Treaty came in the context of the geopolitical shifts in the Middle East since the 2000s. These shifts have shown the need for new visions and approaches to tackle regional crises and problems. There is no doubt that the outcomes of this step surpass the common benefits for the two countries to have a strategic reflection on the whole region. The strategic consequences of this treaty – which represents a game changer – mean that regional power distribution will now be directed towards enhancing and cementing regional stability and development.

In my view, the UAE is the biggest winner of this step, while the Palestinians will be the second one because the UAE has succeeded through this treaty to freeze the decision of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex 30% of land in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. Undoubtedly, the treaty enhances the UAE’s role in pressing Israel in favor of Palestinians just like Egyptians and Jordanians do. Moreover, the treaty makes the Israelis realize that they are winners in their relationship with Arabs; thereby pulling the rug out from under the Israeli right wing and making it more flexible towards a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian issue.

Despite the significance of the UAE-Israeli treaty as it reflects a totally different orientation and, in the sense, that the decision represents an option rather than a necessity, there is a high prospect of success for this deal. Therefore, I believe this treaty will probably work in its various details, particularly if cooperation between the two sides is enhanced in fields that can create some sort of conviction and trust in common and shared interests. 

Dr. Zaid Eyadat, Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, and a Professor of Political Science at Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah II School of International Studies at the same university.

Abdel Monem Said

Abdel Monem Said

The treaty reflects a new spirit in the UAE leadership based on the fact that we, as Arabs, can bring about a change to the current path in the region. Undoubtedly, the UAE is establishing relationships with Israel from a position of strength. The UAE is a country with a history of economic and developmental successes as it offers an attractive global model in terms of multiculturalism, tolerance, governance and the ability to optimize the benefits of globalization. More importantly, the treaty came to reflect an image of an Arab who does not fear Israel and deals with it on a peer-to-peer basis.

The treaty is part of a cooperation trend that has been taking shape in recent years in the region. It is a trend that is based on values of stability, prosperity and progress which manifested itself in the establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum that includes some regional countries like Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. Unlike other destructive regional projects that have already impoverished the peoples of the region and threatened their national states such as the extremist fundamentalist project, Turkey-led Ottoman expansionist project or Iran’s regional expansionist scheme, the treaty envisages a regional cooperation project that can be beneficial to all parties. As such, the treaty contributes to a change in the regional balance of power and its impact goes beyond bilateral relations.

While the U.S sponsored the UAE-Israeli deal even though it has already disengaged from regional issues, Washington will continue its efforts to establish peace relations between Israel and other Arab countries under the future Trump or Biden administration. 

Dr. Abdel Monem Said, Chairman of The Advisory Council of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS); and Chairman of the Board for Al Masry Al Youm Publishing House in Cairo.