The peace accords with Israel prove that the US-promoted "deal of the century" is dead, and both the Trump administration and Gulf nations want to sideline the intractable Palestinian issue and push for formalizing ties with the Jewish state, experts told Sputnik
MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 17th September, 2020) The peace accords with Israel prove that the US-promoted "deal of the century" is dead, and both the Trump administration and Gulf nations want to sideline the intractable Palestinian issue and push for formalizing ties with the Jewish state, experts told Sputnik.
On September 15, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed US-brokered peace deals with Israel in Washington in what represents a historic breakthrough in relations between the Arab countries and the Jewish state.
US President Donald Trump has said that he expects up to nine countries, including "the big ones," to follow suit.
NO DRAMATIC CHANGE ON THE GROUND
Though the agreements that will see the UAE and Bahrain exchange embassies with Israel in return for the latter suspending the annexation of the occupied Palestinian lands are dubbed as historic, experts say that it will not cardinally change the situation in the region.
"I think they [deals] are significant. They are important. I do believe they will benefit both sides. But, of course, they do not change dramatically the situation on the ground. I mean the problems of Israel are not with Emirates, with all due respect, but with the Palestinians and the northern front [with Hezbollah]," Eyal Zisser, the vice rector of Tel Aviv University, told Sputnik.
The gap between Israel and Palestine, he went on, is "enormous," and Trump's apparent hopes that the Palestinians would feel compelled to come to the table and strike a peace deal will not come true unless both conflicting sides agree to compromises.
Abdulaziz Alghashian, a Middle East expert and lecturer at Essex University, agrees that the deals are unlikely to bring peace to the region.
"I don't think that the Palestinians will go to the negotiating table because I don't see them going to any deal if East Jerusalem is not capital of their future state. And the current plan of Donald Trump sees a future Palestinian state without East Jerusalem - its capital is east of Jerusalem, not East Jerusalem. So I don't see it happening," Alghashian said.
The expert still described the Israeli-Gulf accords as "very significant," as they were "not motivated by a cessation of hostilities," but were "a result of mutual interest - whether that be security interest or, I think, more broadly economic interest."
Anyway, the Israeli-Gulf deals have highlighted a shift in the entire approach to the Israeli-Palestinian settlement - both in the US and a part of the Arab world.
"When [Barack] Obama was in the White House, the Arab regimes assumed that Israel must pay for this [peace] project, so the Arab Peace Initiative should come first, and then other talks should follow," Zeev Khanin, professor at the department of political studies in Bar-Ilan University in Israel's Ramat Gan, told Sputnik.
According to the expert, Trump embraced another concept and it became a reality.
"The so-called concept of 'inverted pyramid' ... It means that an agreement with moderate pro-Western Arab regimes should come first and then a solution to the Palestinian issue should follow," he explained.
So, the idea is that "the Palestinians can join the process if they want; if not, we can manage without them," Khanin summed up.
Saudis, the expert says, welcomed the US shift as "something that they wanted to do long ago to remove the counterproductive Palestinian issue from agenda" and "mobilize resources for the fight against Iran."
Thus, Arab countries switched to making bilateral deals with Israel, each on its own. The agreement with the UAE is defined as a peace treaty while the one with Bahrain is a declaration of peace.
All this came as both the Oslo Accords and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which offered normalization as a reward for Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories, "died," according to Khanin.
"But the 'deal of the century' has also died because it was supposed to be a package deal. This was supposed to be a package that would give Israel 30 percent of the West Bank," the professor said.
According to Alghashian from Essex University, the prospect for other countries to join the normalization with Israel is unclear, but has all chances.
"The prospects of Saudis normalizing relations with Israel now or in the near future is very unlikely. I think maybe other Arab countries can potentially [do that], and I think those countries will be incentivized by the United States, they will want to receive something from the United States. Sudan, for example, will want to receive something back in the shape of being off the terror supporting states list, Morocco would want to have recognition of Western Sahara and its problem with Algeria," he said.
There are also speculations about Oman, but Lebanon, Syria, obviously, Kuwait, Qatar, even though Qatar has relations with Israel, and Algeria are highly unlikely to follow suit, the expert added.
When asked what to expect next, Israeli expert Khanin said that it will depend on who wins the US November election.
"If Trump stays, the process will go on. If Biden [wins], they will try to return him to a classic model of the Oslo era, meaning that nothing can be done without Palestinians," Khanin projected.
Saudi Arabia, he believes, will be "the last" to strike formal accords with Israel. The kingdom, at the same time, will not restrain anyone and will, in contrast, encourage other countries like Sudan, Oman and Morocco to do it.
Khanin noted that all these countries defacto have longtime ties with Israel, including in trade, tourism and political dialogue, but previously lacked a go-head from Washington.
"The only thing that's left is to change the plate from the 'office of interests' into 'embassy'," he added, reiterating that much would depend on the US policy.