Yesterday's dramatic announcement of a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was made on television in the old fashioned way, but it heralds a new era. Were it not for a global pandemic, and if we were not in the heat and humidity of August, it could and should have been a moving ceremony with flags and the Jordanian and Israel ridges in the background. And perhaps that moment will come shortly, if the sides manage to organize a ceremony with just a few participants as current circumstances require.
Many Middle East leaders heaved a sigh of relief yesterday, especially the king of Jordan. President Trump, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wiped annexation off the immediate agenda, declared Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque to be a tourist destination for the Arab world, and, as far as King Abdullah II of Jordan is concerned, they removed the domestic Palestinian threat, a real threat to the stability of the Hashemite kingdom.
Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner said that the agreement was called the "Abraham Accord" because it would enable masses of people to pray at Al-Aqsa and to fly to Israel from Abu Dhabi and Dubai in order to do so. Such remarks will enrage the people on the Israeli right, certainly so long as the right to pray on the Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa is situated, is restricted for Jews, but the message emerging from Washington is clear: it's not enough to impose economic sanctions on Iran; the tourism, social and spiritual axis between Israel and the moderate Arab states needs to be strengthened in order to weaken the extremists.
King Abdullah is part of the equation, even if his name was not mentioned directly. Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and the Palestinians, on the other hand, have been left out.
With talk of additional states joining the move: Bahrein, Oman, and there are those who mention Morocco and Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians are learning a painful lesson - the Arab world will not wait for them forever. It wants progress, with or without them.
A spokesperson for Abu Mazen called the agreement "a betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause." The Palestinian Authority needs to change its paradigm. Abu Mazen is at the head, but he is not up-to-date. In the heat of August, everyone dreams of a little ice. Abu Mazen take note: the ice has been broken.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 14, 2020
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