If the planet were a kingdom, US President Donald Trump would be its king right now! He has pulled off what several world leaders in the past failed to achieve. He has ensured that the Muslims will be allowed to pray at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam. Trump has convinced the Israeli PM that there will be no more annexation of West Bank, or Palestinian territories. He has created a path of peace and stability for the region to follow.
Israel and UAE Thursday signed a peace treaty which, as per the latest reports will be signed in person in White House, under the watchful gaze of the man who brokered the deal. Peace has a fair chance to return to the region, though the treaty itself has angered a lot of sections on both sides. Palestinians recalled their Ambassador from UAE, citing reasons that by agreeing to the terms, the UAE has abandoned the Palestinian cause. This is exceptionally immature and myopic, given the fact that the UAE has been supporting Palestinians’ cause for decades now. The Hamas-led leadership, which isn’t happy with the decision, may actually resort to increasing attacks into Israeli territory. In Israel, the far right is not happy at all. The PM has to pacify the sections back home and he clearly stated there will be no more annexation without US approval. However, some think that by doing this, he has taken the pressure of annexation off the table and betrayed them. Beit El settlement council feels that they have been sold out. Naftali Bennet, presently serving as MK (Member of Knesset) for New Right said, “Netanyahu wasted a once in a century opportunity when he failed to annex territories in the West Bank, as part of a normalisation deal with the UAE.” Israeli communication Minister Yoaz Hendel said, “Congratulations on the deal, but I am not giving up on the settlement and our Eastern border.” The hardliners on either side are not happy with the peace deal as they take it as a compromise on status quo. However, the far-sighted leaders of the world, like Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, have realised that not only can Israel be not wished away, the continuous conflict is not good for anyone. Why not give peace a chance?
The response across the world has been very welcoming. Netanyahu had worked with Trump for a long time to work on the US Peace plan in the region, and annexation of the West Bank and other territories was part of the plan. However, in an excellent diplomatic move, Trump turned this annexation plan around as a bargaining chip and worked not with Palestinians and Hamas, but the power behind, the UAE, to create a peace deal. The Israelis can now actually work on a two-nation theory and achieve more security in the region and Palestinians can work on consolidating their state and identity. Oman and Bahrain also showed their appreciation and willingness to join this peace treaty. Israel may have been spared the criticism in the international arena but Netanyahu’s rival and Likud Party leader, Gideon Sa’ar conveyed clearly that he will only be moved when there is application of Israeli laws in Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Jordan valley. The fight for control is not something that they are keen to give up.
India too stands to gain from this. Israel has always been a great ally and a friend, and the Modi government has been able to foster healthy relationships with the UAE too. Both coming together means a better diplomatic environment for India. Also, with Oman and Bahrain coming in support of the UAE, India will be on the right side when it comes to dealing with nations where Indians constitute a large part of the population. I personally feel Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud, will too join the alliance. He has no reason to stay aloof and not take the opportunity of improving relations with the US and West. This would bring a certifiable stability in the region.
The deal puts Pakistan in a difficult situation. It couldn’t have ruined its relations with the Saudis at a worst time. Peace accord means all the funds that Pakistan has been taking for running the so-called Kashmir war will be gone. Already struggling to repay USD 3 billion to Saudi, Pakistan’s donor list is drying up fast. The peace treaty is also a direct signal by the UAE and others that they are done with Palestine and Kashmir issues. The UAE is on a very progressive path and signing multiple deals across the world for renewable energy, space programme, Med Tech etc. It would not want to be associated with the stereotypical and regressive mindset that has now turned Pakistan into a terror factory. Though the Prince is facing tremendous criticism for falling from Ummah and giving up on Palestinian struggle, but it is the step in the right direction.
Ahead of the US presidential elections, Trump has silenced everyone with this master stroke. He is virtually untouchable now on matters of international diplomacy. Credit should be given where it’s due. One can just hope that the peace is here to stay and the region and successively rest of the world can start to heal from the decades of aggression.
(The author is a decorated veteran, who now works in Energy Innovation and Rural Development. Views expressed are personal.)