by Naor Gilon*
This third Tuesday in September was a big day for Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In the White House, the countries signed a peace treaty. It is an historic event that the three countries signed an agreement to fully normalise their relations. This reminds of the iconic images of Israeli and Arab leaders shaking hands during the peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1977 and Jordan and Israel in 1994.
The Abraham Accord is a major breakthrough in international and regional diplomacy. The establishment could also have been a great opportunity for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
Enthusiasm and satisfaction would be expected from all those who have been advocating for peace in the Middle East for so long. It is disappointing to see that many in Europe are not very happy. The generally active Twitter accounts of some European leaders have remained silent. Even the fact that Israel delayed the application of Israeli law in parts of Judea and Samaria (the so-called annexation) apparently did not give enough cause for enthusiasm.
The Palestinian story, which propagates that the Muslim world should be in constant conflict with Israel until the Palestinian issue is resolved, is unfortunately being adopt by many Europeans. Even while Arab countries understand that this is unworkable, and they normalise relations with Israel. The Eu is going one step further, with resolutions that make further improvement of EU-Israeli relations dependent on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With this the EU gives the Palestinians control over relations between the EU and Israel. Another example is the negative reaction of a spokesman of the European Commission to the intentions of Kosovo and Serbia to open embassies in Jerusalem. This notion of automatic support for the Palestinians, even after they rejected the US peace plan, in practise pushes them away from dialogue and compromise. And with that, the unnecessary suffering of the Palestinian people is prolonged, resulting from the incompetence of their own leadership.
The agreement with the Emirates and Bahrain also shows how serious the Iranian threat is being taken in the region. Cooperation between Israel and moderate Arab countries will counteract Iran’s efforts to destabilise the region. The negative and threatening reactions to the agreement by Iran and its allied terrorist organisations speak for themselves. The Middle East is undergoing a fundamental and positive change. Let us hope that more countries in the region will soon follow the courageous leaders of the Emirates and Bahrain.
Let us also hope that the Palestinian leadership will understand the change and will not miss another opportunity for the sake of its own people and will instead join the camp of the moderates.
*Israel’s ambassador to The Netherlands
**first published in: "De Telegraaf"