UAE can play a positive role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, officials say

Abraham Accords represented momentum for peace in region

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , December 12  – 2018 :- Ambassador Dennis Ross , Former assistant to President Obama and National Security Council senior director for the Central Region speaking during the Arab Strategy Forum held at Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dubai International Financial Centre in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Patrick Ryan

The UAE is in a position to play a constructive role between Israel and the Arab world through the Abraham Accords if they are put in the right context, regional officials and experts said on Monday.

Last year, the UAE signed a deal that formally established ties with Israel, considered as one of the most significant changes in Middle East diplomacy in years. In return, Israel vowed to halt an attempt to annex further Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

“We have no doubt that the UAE is in a positive and powerful position to influence the peace process and achieve an end to the crisis based on the two-state solution and the Arab initiative,” Jawad Anani, a former Jordanian foreign minister and prime minister, told a panel on the future of the Abraham Accords, at the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate.

“The UAE has played a positive role but that depends on our ability to bring the parties to negotiate."

Mr Anani said if the “end game” to the decades-long yet stalled negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian authorities was clear, then a two-state solution would be viable.

Arab states have pushed for a negotiated two-state solution between the warring sides, with East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

“We can devise the dynamics and steps where every party and the two sides are involved,” Mr Anani said, and that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have to see a dynamic political process taking place and a process of simultaneity."

Achieving peace in the Middle East was possible, he said, and the Accords “can become a positive tool" if placed in the right context.

The Palestinian Authority and other parties rejected the announcement of the Accords, and called them a “violation of just and lasting peace".

Many Arab states had previously backed the view that peace with Israel would not come before a just settlement for Palestinians.

“Unless the Israelis become sympathetic towards the Palestinians, they won't be on board. It is a question about individuals going about their daily business in peace,” Mr Anani said.

Since the declaration in August 2020, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have normalised ties with Israel in what amounts to one of the most vital shifts the region has undergone.

Arab states must seize the momentum set by the UAE in taking the first steps towards Israel, said ambassador Dennis Ross, former senior US diplomat and currently a counsellor and distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“I would go to different Arab states and would land a series of options they can take with the Israelis to see what the equivalent steps are,” Mr Ross told the panel.

“You have a dynamic that is created by the Abraham Accords. We must restore a sense of hope and possibility. When I look at the Accords, I say 'let’s take advantage of what has pushed it and create a possibility to build a different future'."

Mr Ross said the accords, however, would not resolve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians but it has created momentum.

The UAE has created a model that the Palestinians should take advantage of and be a part of that discussion, Udi Dekel, former Israeli brigadier general and now the managing director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) said.

"By simply saying 'no,' they are denying themselves the opportunity of change, the Accords have changed the rule of the game," Mr Dekle said.

Mr Dekle said many things can be achieved under the umbrella of the Accords, such as shaping the reality of a two-state solution.

"We can work together to promote and improve the Palestinian economy, infrastructure. We would like to see other states taking part in the agreement and to push the Palestinians," he said.

Mr Dekle asserted that Isreal would like to be part of the Middle East as a whole.

Updated: November 15th 2021, 3:13 PM