UAE-Israel deal tears OIC apart

Splits the Muslim bloc into Arab, non-Arab groups: Makes 57-member organisation totally irrelevant

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 05:35 PM, 15 Aug, 2020
UAE-Israel deal tears OIC apart
Palestinian protesters prepare to tear apart a portrait of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, during a protest against a US-brokered deal between Israel and the UAE to normalise relations.–AFP

Israel and the United Arab Emirates’ Thursday decision to establish full diplomatic relations in a US-brokered deal, that required the Jewish state to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians, has made the OIC totally irrelevant and brought it to the brink of disintegration.

The other possibility is its split into Arab and non-Arab camps, as is reflective from the conflicting reactions to the unfortunate development.

The deal also means that President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and order to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has impliedly been accepted by important OIC states.

It may just be a coincidence that reactions coming from the Arab and non-Muslim states are identical and appreciative of the deal while those from the non-Arab Muslim states offer a diametrically opposite point of view.

The Palestinians, experiencing Israeli atrocities for decades in their struggle for an independent homeland, are helplessly watching the unfolding developments, hoping for some miracle that will change the situation to their benefit.

The lack of unity among Islamic countries at this juncture will prolong the miseries of the Palestinian people and they will have to continue offering sacrifices for their rights.

The UAE’s deal with Israel raises a very pertinent question that if even an important decision on the state of relations with Israel is not to be taken from the OIC’s platform, what purpose the 57-state bloc is serving and what role it is expected to play in future.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the UAE-Israel deal was a "betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause."  

In a statement Nabil Abu Rudeineh said: The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising announcement."  

Hanan Ashrawi, an outspoken member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's executive committee who served in various leadership positions in Palestine, said the UAE's announcement was the equivalent of being "sold out" by "friends".

However, President Donald Trump, who brokered the deal called it “a truly historic moment.” 

He has also been quoted as saying: “Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates.”

Hamas rejected the US-brokered deal, saying it did not serve the cause of the Palestinians. 

"This agreement does absolutely not serve the Palestinian cause; it rather serves the Zionist narrative. This agreement encourages the occupation [by Israel] to continue its denial of the rights of our Palestinian people, and even to continue its crimes against our people," Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said in a statement. 

"What is required is to support the legitimate struggle of our people against the occupation and not to establish agreements with this occupier, and any annexation we will face by a Palestinian confrontation that is supported by the Arabs and internationally, and not by signing normalisation agreements with them [Israel]." 

Jordan, which already has diplomatic ties with Israel, said that the UAE-Israel deal could push forward stalled peace negotiations if it succeeds in prodding Israel to accept a Palestinian state on land that Israel had occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. 

"If Israel dealt with it as an incentive to end occupation ... it will move the region towards a just peace," Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a statement on state media. 

Israel's failure to do this would only deepen the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict and threaten the security of the region as a whole, Safadi said. 

Safadi said the agreement must be followed by Israel ending any unilateral moves to annex territory in the occupied West Bank that "obstruct peace prospects and violate Palestinian rights". 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a close ally of the UAE, welcomed the agreement. 

Egypt was the first Arab country that had signed Camp David Accord with Israel some four decades ago. As a result of this agreement it got back several territories that it had lost to the Jewish state in the 1967 war. 

That deal had also been brokered by the US.   

After the UAE-Israel deal, the Egyptian president said in a tweet: "I followed with interest and appreciation the joint statement between the United States, United Arab Emirates and Israel to halt the Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands and taking steps to bring peace in the Middle East."  

"I value the efforts of those in charge of the deal to achieve prosperity and stability for our region." 

The Gulf state of Bahrain also welcomed the accord between the UAE and Israel

Bahrain praised the United States as well for its efforts towards securing the deal. 

Saudi Arabia, till the filing of the report, did not come up with any formal reaction to the deal.   

On the other hand, Iran strongly condemned the UAE-Israel agreement, calling it an act of "strategic stupidity" that will only strengthen the Tehran-backed "axis of resistance". 

"The oppressed people of Palestine and all the free nations of the world will never forgive the normalising of relations with the criminal Israeli occupation regime and the complicity in its crimes," an Iranian statement said. 

"This is stabbing the Palestinians in the back and will strengthen the regional unity against the Zionist regime." 

Turkey, another non-Arab country, said history will not forget and never forgive the "hypocritical behaviour" of the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to a deal with Israel to normalise relations. 

The Palestinian people and administration were right to react strongly against the agreement, the Turkish foreign ministry said. "It is extremely worrying that the UAE should, with a unilateral action, try and do away with the [2002] Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab League. It is not in the slightest credible that this three-way declaration should be presented as supporting the Palestinian cause." 

Oman, a GCC member, said it backed the normalisation of ties between the UAE and Israel, and hoped the move would help achieve a lasting Middle East peace.  

A foreign ministry spokesman expressed the sultanate's "support for the UAE's decision regarding relations with Israel". 

(Non-Arab) Pakistan's foreign ministry said of the deal that such development is "with far-reaching implications". 

"Pakistan has an abiding commitment to the full realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination. Peace and stability in the Middle East region are also Pakistan's key priority," read a statement released by the ministry.

"Pakistan's approach will be guided by our evaluation of how Palestinians' rights and aspirations are upheld and how regional peace, security and stability are preserved." 

Major developments are expected to take place on this front in the future. 

President Trump’s claim that some other Islamic countries could also have diplomatic relations with Israel is very important. Although he did not name them, everyone knows that UAE cannot be expected to take the decision of having diplomatic ties with Israel without consulting Saudi Arabia. 

Let’s see the reaction of remaining Muslim countries to the deal.  

Categories : Opinion