UAE and Israel: A match made in heaven
August 21, 2020
Earlier this month, the Jewish people celebrated the joyous holiday of Tu B’Av, the date on the Jewish calendar that focuses on love and commitment.
Little did we know, but at the time, U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan were putting the finishing touches on an agreement formalizing the bond between Israel and the UAE.
This agreement is a match made in heaven, wedding the technology of Israel with the economic powerhouse of the UAE.
Only those who have spent time in both countries, as I have, can appreciate how magnificent an opportunity this agreement is, not only for Israel and the UAE but also for making the entire world a better place. Both countries are at the forefront of success in a changing global world.
Dubai has a skyline that rivals Manhattan and has become a very important financial center. It is a place of tolerance, not just relative to the rest of the Arab world. Its population is vibrant and diverse. It has become a home to American universities and a hub for key airlines.
Israel’s innovation has impressed the world and become a model, especially for other small countries. Its accomplishments have come despite having few natural resources and a turbulent political system.
After peace agreements with Egypt and then Jordan failed to result in increased ties between Israel and other Arab countries, this deal opens up the Arab and Muslim world to Israel through Dubai and enables mutually beneficial commerce and trade. The crown prince deserves much praise for his courage in making the deal.
This agreement creates opportunities for cooperation in agriculture and tourism as well as technology that is needed more than ever during the international health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be very symbolic if the lifting of the animosity between these two countries will lead to the breakthrough the world has been waiting for and praying for.
As expected with any accomplishment of President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, critics on both the Left and Right have been quick to downplay and dismiss this historic agreement.
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he viewed the deal as an affront to the Palestinian people. Abbas’s criticism is proof of the agreement’s necessity and its potential success.
None of the concessions Israel made for decades led to the Palestinians reciprocating. Rather than make the concessions necessary to help their own people, Abbas and other Palestinian leaders stalled for time, resorted to violence and incitement and missed countless opportunities.
This agreement should be a wake-up call to the Palestinians that no one is waiting for them to overcome their stubbornness anymore. Whether they like it or not, those days are now officially over. Their ability to hold Israel hostage has been lost forever.
Perhaps seeing a leading Arab country pursue the agreement with Israel that they should have made decades ago will finally be what brings the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
But whenever they do come back, they will find that while they were stalling, the paradigm changed. This agreement with UAE is the first of what will become the new trend: Instead of land for peace, from now on, Israel will be trading peace for peace.
Israel will no longer relinquish land and evacuate Jews from their homes in return for calm and instead receive rockets, terror tunnels and suicide bombers in return. The Palestinians will have to overcome their internal divides, their corruption and their misplaced priorities, or they will be rightly forgotten.
With all due respect to the Palestinians, the UAE is much more important for Israel’s future. The Gross Domestic Product of the UAE is 414.2 billion dollars, more than 28 times the GDP of the Palestinian Authority. Its ability to affect the Palestinian Authority cannot be overstated.
This agreement can lead to peace deals with other Muslim countries I have visited, including Bahrain and Qatar and eventually Saudi Arabia. We pray for peace three times a day, and thanks to President Trump, our prayers are bearing fruit.
This was the goal of President Trump’s peace plan from day one, and skeptics who doubted that he could bring about peace in the Middle East are invited to eat their hat. Ambassador David Friedman, Trump advisers Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, and Friedman’s chief of staff Aryeh Lightstone all deserve praise for their extraordinary accomplishment.
Despite incorrect reports to the contrary, they will continue to work toward applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, which has now become easier, not harder, now that the proper environment for implementation has been created. Israeli politicians to the Right of Netanyahu are absolutely wrong to downplay the achievements for Israel in this agreement due to their concerns about sovereignty’s suspension. As a practical matter that suspension does not effect the situation on the ground and gives credence by its very term to a later declaration of sovereignty rather than annexation.
But while applying sovereignty would realistically require President Trump’s re-election in November, this agreement between Israel and the UAE will remain for posterity, no matter who will live in the White House after the inauguration in January.
This deal will be added to the long list of decisions made by President Trump that will leave him remembered as America’s best president ever for Israel. The list includes recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, declaring the legality of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, breaking the awful deal with Iran and supporting Israel completely at the United Nations.
For the past three and a half years, the road to Washington has passed through Jerusalem, and the Arab world knows that, which has made the entire world safer. The UAE deal with the crown prince is a crowning achievement for President Trump in his first term and makes him worthy of receiving another four years to accomplish even more.
Some American Jews may not love President Trump, but this is the time to express gratitude to him for everything he has done for Israel. If that happens, the day that this deal was announced should go down in history as a day to be celebrated.
Martin Oliner is co-president of the Religious Zionists of America, chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity, and a committee member of the Jewish Agency. Martinoliner@gmail.com.