Skeptics, including many longtime observers in the Middle East, analysts, experts and former officials, have expressed doubts about the impact of the agreements and complain that they ignore the Palestinians, who have rejected them as a knife in the ass. back from the Arabs.
However, even the harshest critics have allowed them to start a seismic shift in the region if other Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, follow suit, with implications for Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Other Arab countries believed to be close to recognizing Israel include Oman, Sudan and Morocco.
These agreements are a major achievement for the countries involved and have led to a tremendous sense of hope and optimism in the region, said Trumps’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who led the negotiations. Instead of focusing on past conflicts, people are now focused on creating a vibrant future filled with endless possibilities.
Tuesday’s ceremony follows months of complex diplomacy led by Kouchner and Trump’s envoy to international negotiations Avi Berkowitz, which first bore fruit on August 13 when the Israel-UAE agreement was announced. This was followed by the first direct commercial flight between the countries and then the September 11 announcement of the Bahrain-Israel agreement.
The specific contents of the individual documents to be signed on Tuesday, however, were not known before the ceremony. While officials said they would take care of the joint statements issued when the agreements were first announced, it remained unclear whether the agreements would require further action by the three governments or what binding obligations they would each make to implement.
A senior White House official said Monday that the documents had been completed and that the UAE-Israel agreement would be longer and more detailed than the Bahrain agreement because there was more time to finalize it. Still, the lack of clarity even a day before the ceremony has raised some doubts about the viability of the agreements.
Even in Israel, where the deals have received widespread acclaim, there is concern that they could result in the sale of sophisticated US arms to the UAE and Bahrain, potentially undermining Israel’s qualitative military advantage in the region. Meanwhile, a politically vulnerable Netanyahu is facing questions about appearing at such a major event just days after he announced a new nationwide blockade to combat an increase in coronavirus cases that would impose severe restrictions on movement and rallies. The White House is encouraging those attending Tuesday’s ceremony to wear masks.
And while the UAE and Bahrain have a history of suppressing dissent and criticism, there have been indications that the deals are not nearly as popular or welcomed as in Israel. For one, neither country is sending its head of state or government to sign agreements with Netanyahu.
The largest Shiite-dominated opposition group in Bahrain, Al-Wefaq, which the government ordered to disband in 2016 amid a years-long crackdown on dissent, said there was widespread rejection in the country of normalization.
Al-Wefaq said in a statement that she joins other Bahrainis who categorically reject the deal to normalize ties with the Zionist entity and criticized the government for suppressing the public’s ability to express opinions to hide the degree of dissatisfaction in normalization.
In the UAE, there has been speculation that Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, widely seen as the country’s daily leader and the architect of the UAE’s push to improve relations with Israel, is stepping down from the signing ceremony.
Although the Emirati protocol dictates that the foreign minister and not the crown prince of a specific emirate be sent to represent the country instead of the president of the UAE, who have rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke more that six years ago, there is speculation the prince is not attending the White House ceremony for political reasons.
He may not want to be seen throwing too much of his support after Trump weeks before the U.S. presidential election in which the result is far from certain. As the White House signing ceremony contest offers Trump and Netanyahu a political triumph, Prince Mohammed faces neither re-election pressures nor protests at home.
The Emirates may also be wary of coming too close to Netanyahu, who publicly stated in August his opposition to the sale of US-made stereo F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.
While the UAE has said Israel that is not moving forward with plans to annex West Bank settlements is a cornerstone of the agreement, Netanyahu has insisted that annexation be suspended alone and remain on the table.
Associated Press writer Aya Batrawy in Dubai, UAE, contributed to this report.
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