Israel and Arab Palestinians may be moving closer to solving their conflict, especially as Arab nations seem to be lining up to normalize relations and sign peace treaties with the Jewish state. Arab nations are realizing, say experts, that the future lies in making peace with Israel and not prolonging what many see as a dubious Palestinian claim on the land. That claim has created 70 years of conflict and cost Arab nations hundreds of billions of dollars and numerous military defeats.
The recently announced peace treaty between the United Arab Emirates and Israel may go down as the greatest foreign policy achievement of the Trump administration and could bring Arab Palestinians in the “West Bank” to the negotiating table.
If the headlines from Arab newspapers are any indication, there’s tremendous optimism among Arab leaders.
“People are looking at all of the great opportunities that can exist by working together if we let go of conflicts of the past and figure out how to carve a much brighter and better future,” Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, told reporters on a phone call.
“We do believe that there will be more normalizations with Israel and we do believe at some point, the Palestinian–Israel issue will be resolved.”
The Israel–UAE deal sent shockwaves throughout the Middle East. It was only the third such agreement since Israel became an independent nation, and the first since Egypt and Israel finalized a deal in 1979.
VIDEO: Here’s how Al Jazeera covered the historic news
While Iran and Turkey condemned the move, Bahrain and Oman are said to be considering whether to formalize ties with Israel. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan credited Trump with helping to craft the agreement.
Trump told reporters in Washington last week that he believes the Palestinians “very much want to be a part of what we’re doing.”
“And I see, ultimately, the Palestinians—I see peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I see that happening. I think as these very big, powerful, wealthy countries come in, I think the Palestinians will follow, quite naturally,” he said.
On Jan. 28, the president released a map that showed a potential future Palestinian country, including a capital in eastern Jerusalem. The map received an endorsement from Netanyahu, but was rejected by Palestinian leaders.
Those leaders condemned the UAE–Israel deal after it was announced.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that what the UAE did amounts to “treason.”
“The Palestinian leadership also calls on the international community to abide by international law and resolutions of international legitimacy that form the basis for the resolution of the Palestinian–Israeli conflict and that peace is achieved only through the complete end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories,” he said.
The Islamic terrorist group Hamas also condemned the agreement.
Abbas took issue with Netanyahu only promising to pause the annexation of the West Bank temporarily, not permanently.
Asked what guarantees the United States received on annexation, Kushner told reporters that Israel’s prime minister gave his word.
“Israel has agreed with us that they cannot move forward without our consent. We do not plan to give our consent for some time,” he said.
“We believe they will stick to their agreement. They have trust with President Trump.”
The White House reached out to Palestinian leadership recently, saying if they want to engage now, the issue of Israeli sovereignty is “on hold.”
But the United States won’t “chase” Palestinian leaders, Kushner added.
“The ball is really in the court of the Palestinians now,” he said.
Five more Arab nations, including Morocco and Sudan, have expressed interest in peace agreements with Israel.
–EPTimes and wire services