Israel-UAE peace deal justifies Trump: Goodwin

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Now we are talking about the Art of the Deal!While it is not unusual in political circles to describe something as a historic breakthrough, it is unusual when the term is justified. Yet this is the correct way to describe the tripartite agreement announced Thursday by Trump’s White House, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Based on its immediate impact alone, you might even call this one an earthquake. In an instant, regional fault lines are redrawn and the door is opened for Israel to normalize its relations with other Arab states.

The deal also dramatically increases pressure on the Palestinians to strike a deal, lest they find themselves further isolated in their standoff with Israel.

“This means they must finally come to the negotiating table, or continue where they left off,” Jared Kushner, the top US official involved in framing the conditions, told me.

Indeed, there is a sweetener in the deal for the Palestinians. Israel’s agreement to suspend plans to assert sovereignty over much of the West Bank is a huge concession that saves the Palestinians time, but not indefinitely. Kushner defined the suspension as covering “the foreseeable future”.

He said UAE leaders feared the Israeli decision was a “big setback in relations” and therefore pushed for the suspension.

Meanwhile, the establishment of formal diplomatic relations and the launch of direct air flights means Muslims in the UAE will be able to travel to Israel and visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. This opening destroys Islamists’ claim that Israel prevents them from worshiping in mosques, among Islam’s holiest sites.

The huge compromises justify President Trump’s policy of strengthening the US alliance with Israel and countering Muslim extremists. The usual critics, including Democrats, most European governments and United Nations bureaucrats, have predicted that Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights would lead to greater Arab unity and possibly war.

Indeed, critics endorsed the very policy pursued by the Obama-Biden administration, which yielded only negative results. The former team shook hands with Israel, Saudi Arabia and other traditional allies while courting the Palestinians and Iran. In return, he achieved only Palestinian intransigence and a bold and aggressive Iran.

Going in the opposite direction, Trump, Kushner, and Ambassador David Friedman are using the strengthened US-Israel ties as a rallying point for Arab states that fear Iran more than Israel.

With his signing, the UAE becomes the third Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state and the first since Jordan and Israel signed their peace treaties in 1994. Egypt and Israel agreed to a peace formal in 1979.

These agreements were certainly monumental and, despite the tensions, remain stabilizing factors in regional chaos. The deal with the UAE could turn out to be just as important and has the added element of coming out of nowhere to surprise the world.

The UAE becomes the first Arab Gulf state to normalize relations with Israel, and there is already speculation that others may soon follow, including the Saudis, Oman and Bahrain.

“It changes the paradigm of diplomacy in the region,” said Dore Gold, veteran Israeli ambassador and former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “While this does not preclude an Israeli-Palestinian relationship, it eliminates the Palestinian veto on Middle East peace.”

It also shakes Iran’s cage. Although the Saudis and others have had a back door security relationship with Israel, the fact that the UAE, a predominantly Sunni confederation of seven emirates, formally recognizes what Iran calls “little Satan” must make mad mullahs.

In the past, this would likely mean that General Qassem Soleimani would unleash his Quds force to wreak havoc and try to force concessions in the face of terror. But Trump gave the green light to take out Soleimani last January, so Iran’s chances of stirring the pot are drastically reduced, as well as its economy, thanks to US sanctions.

Of course, being in the Middle East, nothing is ever completely settled. But there’s no denying that Thursday’s pact strengthens the hand of those who want peace and expands the U.S.-led alliance in ways opponents never thought possible.

Against this background, let’s see if Joe Biden and Trump’s hate media have the integrity to recognize the success of Trump’s diplomacy. Or are they so enraged that they are even ready to denounce peace treaties?

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