Israel-UAE pact timing ‘could not be better’ for Netanyahu

On Thursday, President Trump announced a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The agreement makes the United Arab Emirates (UAE) just the third Arab country to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Uriel Abulof, a visiting professor in Cornell University’s government department and professor at Tel-Aviv University, says the agreement makes official a relationship between Israel and UAE that has developed over time as a result of joint regional interests:

“While Trump’s ‘deal of the century’– peace between Israel and the Palestinians – is going nowhere, the U.S.-sponsored UAE-Israel peace can benefit Trump’s most reliable foreign partner, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The pact demonstrates yet again that illiberal leaders can, and often do, back each other. Trump, Netanyahu, and UAE monarchs are obvious bedfellows. Neighbors in calling codes – Israel is 972, UAE 971 – they pose no geostrategic danger to one another. Quite the opposite. With joint regional interests – facing the Iranian threat and combating political Islam – normalization has recently become all but official.

“For Netanyahu, the timing could not be better. His recent electoral pledge to annex large portions of the West Bank became one tree too tall, and the UAE deal provides a fancy ladder to climb down from it. Still, while Netanyahu now employs the deal to justify the (temporary) suspension of the annexation, it is unlikely to satisfy many settler leaders. It will satisfy even less the mounting masses protesting Netanyahu’s corrupted and corrupting rule. In the end, such bottom-up dynamics may well eclipse top down maneuvers.”

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