Falling like a house of cards, two of the Gulf monarchies have not only recognised Israel but also promise to maintain cordial relations with that apartheid-based settler colony. Some others, with similar brands are itching to follow suit. It is inconceivable that both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain could have taken this unpopular measure, without the consent of Saudi Arabia—their much bigger and important partner. The most unusual aspect of this development is how it took place. On both occasions it was President Trump, accompanied by his Jewish son-in-law, and “Christian-Zionist” Secretary of State, who announced the US-brokered agreements, giving an impression as if it was a compulsion, of a sort, with a promise that other Arab monarchies would follow suit.

At least, for the time being, the culmination of this syndrome of closeness would be on the 15th of this month. A ceremony to sign a “historic peace agreement” between Israel and UAE-Bahrain, would take place in the White House, between the leaders of these three countries. Those who support or are desirous to join the “agreement-club” would be the esteemed guests. The Abraham Accord, as the Trump-sponsored agreement is called, was announced last month, in Washington DC.

After Egypt and Jordan, these are the third/fourth peace treaties of any Middle Eastern country with Israel. To settle territorial disputes, Egypt after four wars in 1979, whereas Jordan after three wars in 1994, signed peace treaties with Israel. In contrast, the UAE and Bahrain neither have borders with Israel nor a history of direct conflicts. Under these circumstances, what are the implications of this agreement? How will it affect the polity of the region and above all, the ongoing illegal and inhumane decades-old aggression of Israeli against the Palestinians? The last aspect becomes more relevant when Palestine as an issue is omitted, let alone promise of the establishment of a separate state, based on numerous resolutions of the United States and the Oslo Accord, between the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership in 1973.

In the past, clandestine relations between the Gulf monarchies were an open secret, and that also in the realm of intelligence sharing. The recent agreement is a formal assurance and commitments leading towards full-fledged cooperation in various political and economic matters, including communication, trade, technology, security, and espionage.

The signatories of Trump’s “Peace Plan” would have an insignificant effect on the regional outlook. The countries involved are small in terms of population and geographic area. With aggressive posture, they will continue to confront serious security threats, which cannot be resolved by external forces. Israel is the largest recipient of US economic and military aid; without which it cannot protect itself. Similarly, UAE considers itself insecure without military aid from the United States. That is why these countries are largely dependent on the United States. On the other, Bahrain is even more vulnerable amongst the Gulf monarchies. Adding to Israel’s own instability due to its constant confrontation with the Palestinians, the new Arab friends could become an added liability. It is delusional to believe that these states could bring peace and stability, without resolving the key issue of the Palestinians.

On the other side, the chief sponsor of deals President Trump is currently facing a tough challenge from his Democratic contender. To win the polls, he needs a strategy in the Middle East that could win him the votes of the Evangelicals and white supremacists. Apart from that, Trump sees a huge arms market in these vulnerable states. On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost political support due to serious allegations of corruption against him. Thus, to succeed he needs to tighten the rope around the Palestinians. The announcement of this peace agreement, at this juncture, became a useful tool for US and Israel administrations to divert the attention of their people from internal and external challenges.

The Israel-UAE/Bahrain peace agreement not only violates numerous UN resolutions but also the 2002 Arab Peace Accord, which calls for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. This agreement package will further pave the way for illegal settlements on Israel’s western border, which is a negation of the two-state plan, and will also promote unrest and extremism in the region. There will be more bloodshed of the Palestinians and the scheme to deprive them of their lands and homes will continue. It also gives a message that powerful world leaders can use such serious issues for achieving their political ends, no matter it is Indian oppression in Kashmir or massacre of Palestinians. The most disappointing aspect is the role of Arab/Muslim countries forums, such as the Arab League and OIC, which are reluctant to take a clear stance on these issues.

Nevertheless, the agreement has been opposed by several countries, including Turkey and Iran. Pakistan also considers it as an act of undermining the two-state plan for Palestine. In several interviews, Prime Minister Imran Khan, reflecting the sentiments of the Pakistani people firmly supported the Palestinian cause and made it clear that as long as brutal and inhuman atrocities are taking place by the Israeli occupiers, his conscience does not allow him to accept Israel. He further explained that if we do not support Palestine; how can we expect support for Kashmir from the international community? Second, he stressed that even if every country recognises Israel, Pakistan would not do so, unless an independent Palestinian state is established because it is a matter of principle.

Dr Farooq Hasnat and Dr Zamurrad Awan

Hasnat is a Professor of Politics & International Relations; Awan is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at Forman Christian College University Lahore.