The United States has mediated a peace deal that will see Israel and the UAE fully normalise relations and establish diplomatic ties, according to a joint statement. Israel will also suspend plans to declare sovereignty over Palestinian territories.

There is a good chance that another country could make a deal with Israel in the coming days, senior adviser to the US president Jared Kushner said in a statement.

He also said that the UAE-Israel peace deal may provide space for the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. 

"It’s going to take a while for these agreements to get fully enforced and to go", Kushner said. "Right now, the focus that Israel is going to be applying is toward building this relationship. The opportunities that are now created because of this from an investment point of view, from an innovation point of view, from a health point of view, from a tourism point of view and, most importantly for both countries, from a security point of view - are very robust".

Asked for how long Israel has agreed to suspend its "annexation plans" for the West Bank, Kushner said, "The suspension will last".

Kushner continued on by saying that the UAE has become one of the US' closest allies after the deal with Israel.

"With this step actually the UAE joins a very exclusive club and becomes, you know, really one of America’s closest allies in the region", Kushner said.

Kushner added that over the past six weeks, the United States, the UAE, and Israel had extensive discussions on the matter. The parties finished the agreement in principle a week ago and then finalised all the details in the deal on Wednesday, he said.

The senior adviser's statement comes after Washington brokered a peace deal between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, the third such agreement in existence and the first in over a quarter of a century, that puts on hold controversial plans to extend sovereignty over Palestinian lands and may open the way for further rapprochement between the Jewish state and the oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf, America’s major allies in the region.

Delegations from Israel and the UAE are set to meet in the coming weeks to discuss and negotiate a wide range of bilateral agreements regarding "investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit".

While many countries and organisations have welcomed the agreement, the Palestinian movements have criticised the move. 

Representatives of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) have rejected the agreement between the UAE and Israel, calling it a "departure from the Arab consensus and a betrayal of Arab countries and a betrayal of Palestine".

On 28 January, US President Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians via the two-state solution.

Under the plan, Israel would have declared sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley and keep Jerusalem as its "undivided capital". According to the peace plan, the Palestinians would double the land they currently hold and receive $50 billion in investment to spur the Palestinian economy. However, Palestinian refugees would not be permitted to return to their land.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the peace plan, the Palestinian leadership outright rejected it.

Mossad Played Major Role in Reaching Israel-UAE Deal, Reports Claim

The deal, which has already been labelled a "historic diplomatic breakthrough", was announced on 13 August, with the UAE becoming the first Gulf state to establish full official diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. And while Trump played a major role in its success, apparently he was not the only crucial player in this achievement.

Mossad played a key role in striking an agreement to normalise relations between Israel and the UAE, several news outlets reported, citing anonymous sources. The agency's director, Yossi Cohen, made several trips to Abu Dhabi to coordinate efforts to bring the ties between the two states, which had reportedly long existed in secret, to an official level.

 

HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2020

The outlets offer varying accounts of what it was that boosted the process. Israel’s Channel 12 and The New York Times claim that the covert cooperation between the two countries in battling the coronavirus pandemic had greatly advanced the talks. The reports claim that the Mossad boss made several trips to the UAE to arrange secret shipments of medical supplies.

At the same time, the Walla news outlet suggests, citing anonymous officials, that a breakthrough was only achieved two months ago due to Abu Dhabi's concerns about Tel Aviv's plan to extend its sovereignty to the parts of the West Bank that were outlined in Trump's "deal of the century". Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intentions reportedly angered the UAE, which at one point via its ambassador to the US offered a normalisation of relations in exchange for Israel halting its West Bank plans.

"We have been talking about this for over a year, but the issue of annexation created the atmosphere in which a deal became more attainable", a White House official reportedly said.

The US is later said to have relayed the offer to Tel Aviv, with Netanyahu agreeing to consider it, should Abu Dhabi's intentions be serious. After that, the Mossad chief was busy negotiating the details of the deal with the UAE, the media said. Reports regarding Mossad's involvement were vaguely confirmed by a statement from the Prime Minister's Office saying that Netanyahu thanked Cohen "for the Mossad’s help over the years in developing ties with Gulf nations", which resulted in the deal being signed.

What Comes After the Deal?

    

The accord on establishing diplomatic ties with Israel is the third among the Arab countries and is the first that involves a Gulf state, but it appears that it may not be the last. Netanyahu, President Trump, and his adviser on the Middle East peace process Jared Kushner have all hinted that other regional countries might follow the UAE's suit, possibly in the coming days. The New York Times claimed that Cohen did not just travel to Abu Dhabi, but has in fact been engaging in negotiations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well. The Times of Israel cited "senior Israeli officials" as claiming that Bahrain will be the next Gulf state to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

The 13 August accord is also seen as a major political victory for both President Trump, who is trying to be re-elected in November but is trailing behind his opponent in the polls, and Netanyahu, whose new term has been marred by protests over an ongoing criminal prosecution against him over alleged corruption.

Israeli-UAE Deal Paves Way to Normalisation Between the Jewish State and Arab Nations, Scholars Say

On 13 August, Donald Trump announced a historic deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that formally normalises relations between the countries. International observers have discussed how the newly-inked agreement may influence the balance of power in the region and the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

"The United States believes that more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead and normalise relations with Israel", the White House stated on Thursday.

The accords, signed by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan became the third peace agreement between an Arab nation and the Israelis since the Jewish state declared independence in 1948. Earlier, Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

 

​The Deal Freezes Judea & Samaria Incorporation

The development is important in many ways, highlights Dr Nir Boms, a research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Centre at Tel Aviv University and the coordinator of the TAU Workshop on Israel and the Middle East.

"Months in the making we've seen signs, including the visas for Israelis that were granted at the expo in Abu Dhabi and other rapprochement between the two countries that have happened in the last few years", the researcher points out. "Nevertheless, this is important and significant because it indeed will be another peace treaty of diplomatic relations, which will probably see a different type of normalisation because some degree of normalisation already exists between the two countries".

The agreement kills two birds with one stone, according to Dr Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC:

·         First, it formalises an informal relationship between Israel and the United Arab Emirates;

·         Second, it puts on hold Israel's incorporation of the West Bank, thus easing tensions over the Palestinian Arab question.

"It was an interesting timing and probably a smart way to provide a lever out of the annexation tree", Boms admits. "It did not happen. It was a freeze on the issue itself. For now, it is part of the initiative of the UAE".

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been simmering for decades since the establishment of Israel in 1948, which was immediately followed by Jordan's occupation of the West Bank and a series of Israeli-Arab wars. The Jewish state's gains in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem were regarded by the UN and Arab nations as "occupied Palestinian territories" designated for a future Palestinian state by the UN.

The rapprochement between the UAE and the Jewish state may prompt Israel and the Palestinian Arabs to take additional measures to find a way for the settlement of the conflict, according to Boms. On the one hand, regional players are likely to gain a lot from the normalisation agreement. On the other hand, the Palestinians need to understand that "if they do not agree to a more pragmatic position, this process will happen, bypassing [them]".

"All in all, and that says the new paradigm that will probably accompany us in the months and years ahead", Boms points out.

Although Israel has delayed its plan to incorporate Judea and Samaria – the Biblical names for the West Bank territories – Prime Minister Netanyahu specified on Thursday that there is no change to the plan to extend Israel's sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the United States.

UAE-Israeli Deal Sends a Message to Arab States & Iran

What is most important is that the newly-struck agreement between Israel and the UAE brokered by the United States is "sending a big message to Iran" that the all three have teamed up against Tehran, believes Dr Theodore Karasik.

"What we have here is the three countries are likely to launch a just new discussion about regional security", the scholar observes. "And we're going to have to see where that regional security discussion goes. Will it increase the pressure on Iran or will there be an opportunity down the road maybe after the election?"

The immense changes are occurring geopolitically partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some countries managing to get the virus under control and some still struggling to curb the spread, according to the scholar.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan emphasised the importance of the fight against the pandemic and agreed to “expand and accelerate” cooperation on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"So, because of the geopolitical scene in the region, this agreement will have a big ripple effect", Karasik suggests. "There's a nexus emerging of like-mindedness about Middle East futures. So it's a very big breakthrough. It has a lot of positive aspects to it over the negative aspects".

Nir Boms shares Karasik's optimism to some extent. If all goes as planned, the UAE's move may prompt other Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf, to move in that direction, he foresees.

​The UAE's regional allies - Bahrain, Oman, and Egypt - hailed the accords. According to The Times of Israel, Oman and Bahrain are seen by some observers as "next in line" to sign normalisation agreements with Israel. 

​Commenting on the newly-signed deal, Jordan expressed hope that the accords may facilitate a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian question.

"If Israel sees the agreement as an incentive for the end of the occupation and the return of the Palestinian people's right to freedom and to establish their independent state on the 1967 borders with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital, the region will move towards a just peace", Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an official statement on Thursday.

In contrast, major Palestinian Arab organisations denounced the Israeli-UAE deal as a "stab in the back". Iran and Turkey also slammed the UAE for striking the diplomatic normalisation agreement with Israel. While Ankara lambasted Abu Dhabi for "betraying the Palestinian cause", Tehran stated that the UAE had struck a dagger into the "backs of all Muslims".