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Analysis: New Arab allies face quandary as Israel shifts hard-right

  • Abraham Accords meant to result in wider normalisation
  • However 4 new Arab companions of Israel now in robust spot
  • Easy methods to take care of rightists with out ditching Palestinians?
  • Query whether or not Netanyahu can rein in nationalist allies
  • Nonetheless, two Gulf powers seen invested in ties with Israel

GAZA/JERUSALEM/DUBAI, Jan 5 (Reuters) – Israel’s sharp tilt to what’s prone to be essentially the most arduous proper authorities in its historical past places its new Arab allies within the awkward place of getting to take care of ultra-nationalists whereas making an attempt to do extra than simply pay lip service to the Palestinian trigger.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cupboard, sworn in final week, contains hardcore rightist events who need to annex occupied West Financial institution land the place Palestinians have lengthy sought to determine an unbiased state.

That poses a dilemma for 4 Arab states – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan – that moved towards regular ties with Israel two years in the past and now should stability this new partnership with historic assist for Palestinian aspirations.

When the UAE, the Gulf enterprise and funding hub and a rising regional energy, grew to become the primary Gulf Arab nation to strike a take care of Israel in 2020 to determine ties, it hoped that long-standing, flamable points akin to Israeli settlements in occupied territory may very well be resolved.

Whereas Netanyahu has mentioned he could have remaining say on coverage, his authorities’s dedication to increase West Financial institution settlements and the inclusion of ultra-nationalists in his cupboard militates towards any compromise with Palestinians.

Safety Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is a pistol-packing, ex-member of an outlawed Jewish militant group. He got here up via the Kahane Chai organisation, which is blacklisted in Israel and the US for its virulently anti-Arab doctrines.

On Tuesday he infuriated Palestinians and drew a barrage of condemnation by visiting the Al Aqsa mosque compound, a flashpoint website revered by Muslims and Jews that’s situated in east Jerusalem, captured in 1967 and later annexed by Israel.

One other of Netanyahu’s coalition companions is Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Spiritual Zionism get together who like Ben-Gvir is a West Financial institution settler averse to Palestinians’ self-rule, not to mention their hopes of statehood.

“Each the UAE and Bahrain would have actually not most popular this authorities as it will actually take a look at their relations with Israel,” mentioned Aziz Alghashian, a Saudi analyst specialising in Gulf-Israel relations. “If there may be battle…, each the UAE and Bahrain would expertise strain to do one thing.”

Nevertheless, Alghashian mentioned each Gulf nations had invested political capital within the agreements with Israel, often known as the Abraham Accords after the traditional patriarch revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, and are unlikely to interrupt ties if open battle between Israel and the Palestinians erupts once more.


For the UAE, the diplomatic breakthrough with Israel capped years of discreet contacts in vital commerce and expertise and will assist the Gulf monarchy craft a picture as a drive for stability in a turbulent Center East.

The UAE didn’t instantly reply to a Reuters request for touch upon this text.

The 2 nations ratified a complete financial partnership settlement in December, after Netanyahu’s election victory. It’s anticipated to be the widest-ranging deal of its form between Israel and an Arab state.

Ties have additionally been bolstered by shared fears that Iran poses an existential safety risk to a lot of the Center East, and early indicators counsel each nations need to preserve the connection robust.

UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan known as Netanyahu to congratulate him on his inauguration and voice his hope “to push ahead the trail of partnership and peace between the 2 nations”, the UAE state information company mentioned.

For its half, the Bahraini ambassador to Israel, Khaled Al Jalahma, reaffirmed its dedication to normalisation. Bahrain’s king had “correctly ordained that we aspire to co-existence and affluent peace. The historic Abraham Accords restored hope and underscored the significance of dialogue,” the ambassador tweeted on Dec. 19.

Ben-Gvir, in a videotaped interview given at a lodge reception placed on by the UAE embassy in Israel on Dec. 1 – after he signed a coalition pact with Netanyahu however earlier than the federal government was put in – indicated that he was taken with creating even nearer relations.

“That is the proof that one could make peace with out concessions, with out capitulation – however fairly, peace, peace, between individuals who have affection for each other,” he mentioned in feedback printed by the conservative Israel Hayom newspaper.


Palestinian officers have mentioned they really feel betrayed by fellow Arabs for forging relations with Israel with out first demanding progress towards the creation of a Palestinian state.

In Ramallah, within the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution, Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Group’s Govt Committee, known as on Arab states to overview relations with Israel.

“Arab nations who shaped normalisation ties with the state of occupation are required greater than ever to revise these agreements,” he informed Reuters by telephone.

“What’s required at the moment is to impose a complete siege and isolation towards the occupation state and the federal government of fascist insurance policies and to reveal its crimes earlier than the world.”

Which may be wishful pondering.

There seems to be no signal of hazard to the Abraham Accords, despite the fact that they might not be so well-liked on the Arab road. However Palestinian choices are restricted.

Netanyahu has pledged to construct on the achievement throughout his earlier time period of the Abraham Accords that opened the best way for a doable normalisation of relations with different Arab nations.

He needs to domesticate relations even with Saudi Arabia, essentially the most conservative and cautious Center East heavyweight.

“Peace with Saudi Arabia will serve two functions,” he informed the personal Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya final month. “It’ll change our area in methods which might be unimaginable. And I believe it’s going to facilitate, finally, a Palestinian-Israeli peace.”

Saudi Arabia is opening up considerably underneath its de facto chief Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however has been cool to normalisation with Israel within the absence of progress within the Palestinians’ statehood quest.

“Normalisation with Israel is not going to assist us in any respect, quite the opposite it’s going to improve the brutality towards us, it’s going to trigger a battle, we are going to face issues and massacres,” mentioned Rawan Abu Zeid, 18, a resident of Palestinian Islamist-ruled Gaza.

Further reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; writing by Michael Georgy; enhancing by Dominic Evans and Mark Heinrich

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

A senior correspondent with almost 25 years’ expertise overlaying the Palestinian-Israeli battle together with a number of wars and the signing of the primary historic peace accord between the 2 sides.

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