On September 15, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, representing Israel, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, representing the UAE as its Minister of Foreign Affairs, signed the ‘Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel.’
The signatories agreed to exchange resident ambassadors, to co-operate on security, and to establish bilateral agreements in spheres such as, but not limited to, Finance and Investment, Civil Aviation, Technology and Peaceful Uses of Outer-Space, Tourism, Culture and Sport, Energy, Environment, Education, Maritime Arrangements, Telecommunications and Post, Agriculture and Food Security, Water, and Legal Cooperation. The full text of the agreement is here. On that day, Israel also signed an agreement with the Kingdom of Bahrain, the text of which is here.
The UAE-Israel agreement is a culmination of a decade-long process where relations between the two states warmed. Initially, ties between the countries remained hidden, with officials communicating behind closed doors. The US was a location where Israel’s and the UAE’s officials would communicate clandestinely, in several secret meetings where they discussed shared interests, including Iran. Over time, this relationship would emerge gradually into the open.
For the first time, in 2018, the UAE permitted Israeli minister Miri Regev’s attendance in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and permitted Israel’s anthem to be played after an Israeli player won while the Israeli flag flew above. This incident marked a turning point in the relations. The two countries were not shy about their contact.
Then, when the Coronavirus crisis began, the UAE worked with Israeli officials directly to send aid to the Palestinians on the first direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv. However, the Palestinian Authority rejected the aid because it came through an Israeli airport. Again, the UAE sent another plane, this time in full Etihad livery, only to be snubbed by the PA once more.
When a few months ago, Israel sought to annex parts of Judea and Samaria, this budding relationship was on the edge of crumbling. However, a few weeks after negotiations mediated by President Trump, the world woke up to the unexpected announcement that, in exchange for Prime Minister Netanyahu halting the annexation, the UAE and Israel would establish full relations.
Following the announcement, the delegations met each other in Abu Dhabi, the Israeli and American one having flown over Saudi airspace on the first EL AL plane from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi. They discussed the planned normalization, and then on September 15th, the peace treaty was signed in DC. In a surprise, a few days before the UAE and Israel singed their agreement, Bahrain also decided to join this move towards a new era of peace in the region.
The UAE-Israel peace treaty is not the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab country. Nevertheless, what distinguishes this from Israel’s earlier treaties with Egypt and Jordan is the nations’ enthusiasm and speed in sealing the deal as soon as the news reached public ears. Rather than being a cold peace between governments or a de-facto armistice, this normalization was a warm reconciliation of two peoples, well received by both ends.
Within three days from the normalization’s announcement, Abu Dhabi’s APEX National Investment company signed a deal with Israel’s Tera Group to co-operate on research and development related to COVID-19. On the same day, the UAE opened phone-lines to the Jewish State. In the following weeks, organizations in both these countries made more deals, including the agreement between Bank Hapoalim of Israel and the National Bank of Dubai to allow Israeli clients direct transactions in the Emirates and other countries, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science to collaborate in different areas.
After the deal was signed, the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) announced plans to open its first office outside the UAE in Tel Aviv.
This rapprochement shows us that in the region, countries are seeing Israel as a potential partner. In a talk, ‘Peace as a Paradigm Shift: A New Era of UAE Israeli Cooperation,’ hosted by the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Omar Ghabash, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the transformation of the UAE as a global hub made it necessary for the nation to connect with other hubs like Israel, a global hub for innovation. Rather than basing ties solely on politics, the Gulf countries see additional interests in having relationships with the Jewish State. A new dawn of peace has come to the Middle East, and more countries are likely to follow the UAE and Bahrain’s suit.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.