Is the UAE-Israel Deal an Actual ‘Stab in the Back’ for Palestinians?

Palestinians had seen it coming for years. The deal which the United Arab Emirates recently signed with Israel not only renders Palestinians hopeless but also makes them even more unaware of what the future might hold for them. But that is just one side of the story.

The “stab in the back” which Palestinians say has crushed their hopes of getting a fair response from the Arab world has many facets. Both regional powerhouses penned an agreement on August 13, paving the way for the normalization of diplomatic ties. After Egypt’s 1979 Peace Treaty and Jordan’s 1994 Agreement, the UAE has become only the 3rd Arab state to normalize ties with Israel.

How Was the Deal Made?

The deal was in the workings for years. Officials involved in the formulation of the agreement known as the Abraham Accord, say cohesion between both sides started picking up pace in February last year during the Mideast Conference in Poland. The main idea behind this deal in the long-run is to strengthen the UAE in terms of security to fight the battle along with ally Saudi Arabia against Iran’s regional influence.

The immediate propositions of this pact will see bilateral direct flights, scientific cooperation, and the establishment of concrete business ties. According to the UAE government, the deal will halt Israel’s annexation plans for parts of the West Bank and will give both sides a chance to negotiate a renewed peace plan.

But one might wonder how efficient these plans actually are?

Israel has shown little to no interest in harmonizing relations. Attacks are still being conducted on a daily basis, the United States embassy was also moved to Jerusalem last year and the Peace Plan was rejected by Palestinians as being “one-sided.” This time around, even the Muslim world remains divided over the stance taken by the UAE.

On one side are countries like Jordan and Egypt which have hailed the deal as a stepping stone to bring peace for the Palestinian cause. On the other, are allies Turkey and Iran which have strongly rejected the deal, saying the UAE has betrayed the Palestinian cause by siding with the Israelis.

International Response to the Abraham Accord

Let’s take a look at how exactly the Muslim world has responded to this political change. To get a better picture let’s divide them into two groups; Pro-deal and Anti-deal groups. Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Oman along with some European countries are the ones who have applauded the deal. Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Pakistan, Malaysia and Kuwait are the ones which have strongly criticized the deal.

Jordan and Egypt released a statement following the confirmation of the normalization of ties. Egyptian President Sisi welcomed the deal, saying it would help bring peace to the Middle East. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Safadi also lauded the agreement saying the deal was an incentive to end occupation once and for all.

Spain, Germany, France and the United Kingdom have also appreciated the effort made by both sides with all agreeing that if the deal is put through, there could be a much more peaceful Middle East which in turn will enable peace between Israel and Palestine once and for all.

Turkey on the other hand said the UAE was playing a dangerous role and President Recep Erdoğan even threatened to call his ambassador back to Ankara from Abu Dhabi. It added that the UAE must remain committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab league. Iran, which is also considered to be a pivotal actor in the deal, termed the move “strategic stupidity.” While Oman backed the normalization of ties between both sides, Morocco released a statement with Prime Minister El Othmani saying that the rights of the Palestinians are a “red line” for his government.

Non-state actors such as Hamas and Hezbollah have also denounced the deal saying it will further increase tensions and bloodshed in Palestine. Pakistan and Qatar have also strongly rejected the deal with the Pakistani government saying it will respond according to the conditions of the Palestinians and how well they are treated by the accord. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry also added that Palestinians must be given their full legitimate rights and the right to self-determination.

What Does the Future Hold for the Volatile Region?

While it’s apparent that the West has welcomed this deal between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, they might have, in one way or the other, overlooked the real components of this deal. I believe that if the deal is actually to improve the living conditions of Palestinians, to stop annexation and to bring peace and stability in the region, both sides must work hard to achieve that. If the UAE is gaining better diplomatic relations and transfer of resources, then it should also comply with the peace plan and make sure to secure rights of Palestinians in order to legitimize Palestinians and secure a better future for them.