While Arab states talk big on Palestinians, UAE deal shows U.S. policy needs to be based on their deeds

by Yoram Ettinger

(JNS) —  Israel’s regional posture of deterrence and global high-tech prominence motivated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to conclude the Aug. 13, 2020, peace accord with Israel. The same Israeli features have prompted the pro-U.S. Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, as well as Jordan and Egypt, to dramatically expand security and commercial cooperation with the Jewish state.

The UAE considers strategic cooperation with Israel in general and the peace accord in particular critical added value to its line of defense (second only to the US) against a variety of lethal threats. These include Iran’s conventional and terror offensive, Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al-Qaeda terrorism, Turkey’s operational and logistic support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its military base (5,000 soldiers) in pro-Iran Qatar. The UAE, as do all other pro-U.S. Arab regimes, recognizes Israel as the most effective and reliable “life insurance agent” in the region.

These rogue elements have become regional and global epicenters of Islamic terrorism and drug trafficking in Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North and Central Africa, South and Central America, with sleeper cells in the United States.

Israel’s posture of deterrence and growing cooperation with all pro-U.S. Arab regimes has spared the United States the need to deploy more aircraft carriers and ground forces in the Middle East and neighboring regions.

The UAE has become a leader in the Arab battle against global Islamic terrorism (following years of UAE financing Islamic terrorism), targeting 82 Islamic terror organizations, which operate in Germany, Norway, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, the Persian Gulf, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, etc.

The UAE values Israel as a unique source of counter-terrorism intelligence, planning, training and supply of advanced counter-terrorism systems.

The UAE is the second largest economy in the Middle East, with the 7th largest proven oil reserves in the world, and has been very successful in transitioning its economy from an oil-based (mostly Abu Dhabi) to a diversified economy (mostly Dubai). Therefore, the UAE regards Israel’s achievements in commercial high tech, agriculture, irrigation, medicine and health as a useful platform to bolster the diversification of the economies of its seven federated emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al Quwain.

Since the UAE and Israel share significant geostrategic challenges and threats, the UAE is anxious to leverage Israel’s positive standing among the U.S. population in general, and among U.S. senators and House representatives, in particular.

The official UAE announcement of the peace accord highlights the wide gap between Arab talk and Arab walk. The intangible UAE talk stipulated that the normalization of ties with Israel aims at halting the application of Israel’s law to the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). However, the tangible UAE walk involves a substantial enhancement of security and commercial cooperation with Israel, notwithstanding the rough Palestinian protestation.

The UAE decision to establish official peace with Israel, while there is no progress on the Israel-Palestinian front, documents the Arab walk on the Palestinian issue, which is considered very low — and even negative — in their order of priorities.

The secondary/marginal role of the Palestinian issue on the intra-Arab agenda — irrespective of the pro-Palestinian Arab talk — was also evidenced by the 1979 Israel-Egypt and 1994 Israel-Jordan peace accords.  It was also evident by the enhancement of Israel’s geostrategic ties with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, in defiance of Palestinian objections and threats.

Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, Israel should not suspend/expunge the decision to apply its law to the Jordan Valley and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria as a gesture to the UAE. The UAE decision was not driven by philo-Israel sentiment, but by UAE national security priorities, which do not require an Israeli gesture that devastates Israel’s own regional posture of deterrence and national security.

Moreover, the aim of the UAE-Israel peace treaty is to deter rogue regimes, minimize regional instability and enhance the national security of the UAE and all other pro-U.S. Arab regimes.

Israel’s control of the Jordan Valley and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria constitutes a prerequisite for its effective posture of deterrence, which has played a critical role in deterring anti-U.S. rogue elements throughout the Middle East, from Iran to the Mediterranean and North Africa. Furthermore, it has reduced lethal threats to the pro-U.S. Hashemite regime in Jordan and to the pro-U.S. regimes in the Arabian Peninsula south of Jordan.

The UAE walk — not the UAE talk — suggests that the United States and Israel should not base their national security policy on the philo-Palestinian Arab talk, which misrepresents Middle East reality. Responsible policy should be based on the Arab walk, which reflects the secondary/marginal role of the Palestinian issue in the reality of the Middle East.

Moreover, responsible policy requires tenacity and decisiveness—not hesitancy and indecision—when it comes to the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, the cradle of Jewish history, culture, religion and language.

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.