Finally, an issue on which all Jews can agree
August 28, 2020
The last few weeks have witnessed a landmark development in Arab-Israeli relations upon which all fair-minded Jews can finally agree.
I am of course referring to the agreement reached on Aug. 13, 2020, between the government of Israel and the government of the United Arab Emirates to establish diplomatic normalization with and recognition of the Jewish state.
The anticipated peace treaty and ancillary agreements covering cooperation and collaboration in the fields of medicine, security, transportation and trade are not yet formalized as of this writing, but are expected to be signed in Washington sometime in September before the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days.
Apparently, this landmark agreement was the product of secret talks between the parties brokered by the Trump Administration leading up to the announcement in Washington on Aug. 13, 2020.
A major concession by the Israeli government to suspend, but not to waive, its ultimate right to extend Israeli law to the settlement communities of Judea and Samaria was a precondition of the UAE to recognize and make peace with the Jewish state.
Progressive and conservative Jews alike can be happy with another Arab state finally recognizing the State of Israel; and that it is a defeat for the supporters of the BDS and the movement to delegitimize the Jewish state.
Progressive and conservative Jews alike can be happy because this new peaceful relationship increases Israeli security and opens up possibilities for increase trade and security cooperation with other gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Progressive Jews can be elated that the issue of asserting Israeli sovereignty of the disputed territories has been postponed and Conservative Jews can be elated that Jewish sovereignty remains a possibility for the future. Most importantly, the deal offers the Palestinians a path back to the negotiating table and keeps alive the prospects for a two-state solution.
Once the Israeli government announced its intention to extend Israeli sovereignty over a significant part of the disputed territory pursuant to the Trump Deal of the Century, Abbas himself declared his readiness to resume bilateral talks with Israel if that did not occur. He now has an opportunity to keep his word and to return with dignity to the peace process.
Under the Trump Peace Plan, the extension of sovereignty was coupled to a firm commitment from Israel to the two-state solution. Although the settlers and conservative Jews in America were for the most part supportive of extending Israeli law and sovereignty to the settlement communities as well as to the sparsely populated Jordan Valley, they did not want to swallow the bitter pill of a Palestinian state in the remaining lands of Judea and Samaria.
By suspending the sovereignty issue, the settlers and their conservative supporters can breathe easier since the concept of an independent, demilitarized and democratic Palestinian state peacefully existing adjacent to Israel is probably not realistic for the foreseeable future.
So here we are: Israel makes peace with another Arab neighbor. All Jews can agree this is good. Israel, for now, backs off from extending its law and sovereignty to the disputed territories and does not have to commit before negotiations to a two-state solution. All Jews can agree this is good because it gives the Palestinians a dignified path back to the negotiating table.
There is one indispensable player who is not happy. For 72 years the Palestinians have insisted, short of dismantling the Jewish state, there were no other issues to negotiate with the Israelis. Now 72 years later it should be increasing clear to the Palestinians that the more they procrastinate in recognizing the reality and permanence of Israel, the more they will find themselves left with very little to negotiate.
But for the moment, all Jews and people of goodwill can agree we have moved a bit closer to a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.
Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.