After Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel in 1979, followed by Jordan’s in 1994, Abraham Accord makes the UAE the third Arab country to normalise relations with Israel. It is the first of the six Arab Gulf states to do so. Oman, Bahrain, and possibly Morocco are widely expected to follow thereupon. Discrete contacts between the UAE and Israel had been underway for years but still, the details and timing of this normalisation deal were kept secret right up to the last minute whereof. There were no consultations between the UAE foreign ministry in Abu Dhabi and its Arab neighbors therein. Almost everyone was taken by surprise, most of all the Palestinians, who called it “a stab in the back” since they have yet to come close to getting a state of their own or ending Israeli occupation.

Moreover, the risk is it could make the UAE leadership highly unpopular in the wider Arab world where some social media postings have been calling it “a sell-out”. Despite the apparent Israeli promise of halting annexation, the Palestinian leadership rejected the accord and recalled its ambassador from Abu Dhabi. From the perspective of the Palestinians and their supporters, the agreement reflects mala-fide on the part of Israel, the UAE, and the United States thereto.

Thereafter, this criticism is not uncalled-for. Israel has demonstrated little interest in negotiations with the Palestinians as it has tightened its grip on the West Bank and, along with Egypt, maintains a tight cordon around the Gaza Strip. The Trump administration has moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, ended or significantly curtailed aid to Palestinians, and produced a peace plan that Palestinians regard as grossly unfair to their national aspirations and rights. At the same time, leaders in Ramallah regard the ongoing normalisation of ties between Israel and the UAE as an indication that Abu Dhabi has betrayed the Palestinian cause.

Furthermore, within the region, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman publicly welcomed the Abraham Accord. Saudi Arabia has remained silent, though there is significant speculation among analysts that this non-reaction is a sign that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman supports the agreement but is constrained because his father, the king, opposes normalisation with Israel. Iran, Qatar, and Turkey have all criticised the accord, with the latter threatening to withdraw its ambassador from Abu Dhabi. Civil society organisations throughout the region remain steadfast in their opposition to normalising relations with Israel. These include groups in the Gulf, which have spoken out specifically against the Israeli-Emirati agreement.

Amid countries in the Gulf, Bahrain is most likely to follow the UAE. King Hamad has overseen steps toward normalisation, including allowing Israeli officials to attend a regional security meeting in the country. Additionally, the Israeli foreign minister has met with his Bahraini counterpart. Oman is another possible candidate for normalization. Netanyahu met with the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Muscat in late 2018. However, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, who came to power in January 2020, could act more cautiously regarding relations with Israel as he consolidates his power. Morocco and Sudan might also seek to establish diplomatic relations with Israel thereon.

However, the question is what about Pakistan? Pakistan and Israel came into existence almost at the same time; Israel through America offered millions of dollars for official recognition as a state. PM Liaqat Ali Khan rejected the offer and gave a ruthless response and that is the answer to the question “Gentleman our souls are not for sale”. and our leadership will own this statement as apt and befitting.