By Stephen Farrell
JERUSALEM, Aug 13 – Middle East analysts and commentators described the Israel- United Arab Emirates deal as – variously – a groundbreaking and historic accord, or a face saving announcement for leaders seeking a way out of their problems.
Israeli hawks said it sounded the death knell for the ‘Land for Peace’ formula that has underpinned decades of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, while Palestinians accused an Arab neighbour of selling them out.
The following is a selection of comments:
– Amos Yadlin, director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, said Saudi Arabia would be closely watching this “trial balloon.”
He said the deal suggested that White House advisers believed annexation would “finish off” President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan, announced earlier this year.
The accord, said Yadlin, “on one hand, saves the Trump plan, and on the other hand, gives Israel a diplomatic achievement.”
– Hanan Ashrawi, member of PLO Executive Committee, on Twitter: “May you never experience the agony of having your country stolen; may you never feel the pain of living in captivity under occupation; may you never witness the demolition of your home or murder of your loved ones. May you never be sold out by your “friends.”
– Aaron David Miller, senior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment, to Reuters via email: (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) “Netanyahu, UAE, and Trump Administration are making a virtue out of necessity. But I´d have to admit, it´s extremely clever. It´s a big win for all three.
“UAE will say it´s prevented annexation; US prevents annexation too and gets a big breakthrough in Israel´s normalization with Arabs and Netanyahu gets an enormous win and is freed from the complications and traps of annexation.”
– Christians United For Israel, an evangelical group that claims 8 million members said on Twitter: “CUFI applauds historic normalization of ties between #UAE and #Israel.”
– Yair Rosenberg, senior writer at Tablet Magazine, on Twitter: “Bibi just did the thing where he tells the settlers that he’s eventually going to annex, he promises, for real, just not now. Charlie Brown and the football. I doubt the settlers will fall for it this time.”
– Adnan Abu Amer, political analyst in Gaza: “The accord was a tough blow to Abbas and made him look alone, especially after the statements from Egypt and Bahrain that welcomed it. Israel is looking beyond the bilateral dimension of this accord. It may open doors to other Arab capitals.”
– Statement by Likud, Netanyahu’s party: “For the first time in history, Prime Minister Netanyahu broke the ‘land for peace paradigm,’ securing a ‘peace for peace’ deal.”
– Hani al-Masri, a Palestinian analyst in Ramallah, said he feared annexation might still happen. “Netanyahu said the annexation plan was still on the table,” he wrote on Facebook. “It is a gift to the occupation. A full normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel in return for freezing the annexation plan and not for cancelling it.” (Writing by Stephen Farrell. Reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Jeffrey Heller and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Rami Ayyub in Tel Aviv; editing by Grant McCool)