Context: It took more than three decades for the first Arab country (Egypt in 1979) to recognise Israel.
- Jordan, the second Arab country that established peace with Israel, took 15 more years to do so.
- There was a gap of 26 years between Jordan’s peace treaty and that of the UAE (in 2020) with Israel.
- And then, it took less than 30 days for the fourth agreement — between Bahrain and Israel recently mediated by the U.S.
Arab Peace Initiative
- Till the UAE-Israel deal was announced in August 2020, the official Arab position on the question of Palestine was rooted in the Arab Peace Initiative, proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, and endorsed by the Arab League in the same year.
The proposal calls for normalising relations between the Arab world and Israel, in exchange for:
- full Israeli withdrawal from the territories it captured in the 1967 war, including the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights,
- a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee issue and
- the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
- Since 2002, both the UAE and Bahrain have supported the Arab Peace Initiative. However, the recent agreements made by Bahrain and the UAE break with this consensus.
- The Abraham Accords [Israel-UAE deal] require Israel only to ‘temporarily halt’ its formal annexation of the West Bank [settlements].
- The agreement between Bahrain and Israel dispenses with the pretense altogether, making no mention of Palestinian land.
- The Palestinians have further called for “an immediate emergency session” of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation “to reject this declaration”.
- This leaves the Palestinians more isolated than ever, and further weakens the already-dim prospect of a two-state solution.