A landmark agreement was reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently according to which Israel would postpone its plans to annex large parts of the West Bank and diplomatic relations would be established between the two countries.
The “Abraham Agreement”, announced by US President Donald Trump secures an Israeli pledge to halt further annexation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank. However, addressing reporters later in Tel Aviv, PM Netanyahu said he agreed to “delay” the annexation as part of the deal with the UAE, but the plans remain “on the table”.
According to reports, Palestinian leaders are shocked by the Israel-UAE deal. “The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising announcement,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior adviser to Abbas. Abu Rudeineh called the deal was a “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause.”
Hamas rejected the US-brokered deal and said – “This agreement does absolutely not serve the Palestinian cause, it rather serves the Zionist narrative. This agreement encourages the occupation 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.
The initial reaction of other Islamic countries has just come to this decision of the United Arab Emirates. Egypt and Jordan have welcomed this decision.
Jordan 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.
This entire development will affect the relations between the Gulf countries, the politics of the Middle East and other countries of the world that have relations with them, and India will not remain untouched by that. The Islamic world seems to be polarizing with the new agreement.
Experts says that at present, the Muslim country of the world seems clearly divided into three camps. Iran is seen standing apart, Saudi Arabia and UAE seem to lead together in the second camp, and a third group is seen of Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan. Overall, this factionalism of the Islamic world will increase further after this decision.
The effect of the agreement on India
In such a situation, the question arises what effect this decision will have on India. According to Times of India diplomatic editor Indrani Bagchi, New Delhi has very good ties with both Israel and the UAE.
The thinking of Israel and India is also similar to regional security in the Middle East. The UAE is an emerging force there. Therefore, if both countries come together, India will welcome it too.
But will the coming together of this pair have any effect in isolating Pakistan? On this, Indrani says – Pakistan has isolated itself by going with China. But Pakistan will always be an important member of the Islamic world as it is the only nuclear power.
Harendra Mishra talking to BBC said that Saudi Arabia and UAE were always considered strong allies of Pakistan, but for some time, their relationship with India has dramatically improved, in comparison to Pakistan.
As an example of this, he mentions last year’s Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in which India was called as a special observer even after Pakistan vehemently opposed the move. Pakistan was against this invitation, but the UAE did not listen.
This was the first time after five decades, when India was called to the OIC meeting. Not only this, in the annual meeting of the OIC to be held this year, Pakistan accused India of actively promoting Islamophobia.
The Maldives, however, blocked Pakistan’s attempt to target India on Islamophobia at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries. Ambassador Thilmeeza Hussain, the Permanent Representative of the Maldives in New York at the OIC meet said, singling out India, which the largest democracy in the world and multicultural society and home to over 200 million Muslims, alleging Islamophobia would be factually incorrect.
“Maldives cannot support any action within the OIC, that singles-out or targets New Delhi,” Ambassador Hussain said at the virtual meet of the 57-member grouping.
Mishra says – India’s close proximity with the UAE and Saudi Arabia was seen even after the Balakot attack. There were also reports that Saudi Arabia played an important role in the rescue of Indian pilot – Abhinandan Varthaman.
Recently, when Pakistan raised questions in the OIC about the removal of 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Saudi Arabia said it was India’s internal matter.
Later, Riyadh has demanded Pakistan repay part of the $3bn loan and has frozen a $3.2bn oil credit facility because of a dispute over how to deal with New Delhi on Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan in July was forced to repay $1bn of the loan Riyadh approved in 2018. The two sides are now reportedly engaged in intense negotiations on repayment of the remainder of the debt.
All these developments indicate that India’s ties with UAE and Saudi Arabia have been very good and if any kind of agreement has been reached between UAE and Israel, then certainly India will support these deals.
After UAE, Saudi Arabia’s Turn
The friendship and historic bond between the UAE and Saudi Arabia is also well known. In such a situation, most people believe that Saudi Arabia will also follow the path of UAE in recognizing Israel.
But Indrani has a slightly different opinion on this. Saudi Arabia is considered to be the most protectionist ideology in religious affairs in the Middle East. Because of this, given the past history with Israel, it may be difficult for Saudi Arabia to come openly with the Jews. Although politically, the Saudis have been with Israel for many years.
Indrani says that Saudi Arabia has allowed the use of its airspace to India to start an airline between India and Israel. This is an example of how Saudi’s attitude towards Israel has changed towards both India and Israel.
But experts think that the reason Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel are collaborating is due to common enemy – Iran. Earlier, speaking at the press after the deal, the US President said – the frozen ice has melted on the relationship. I hope that more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the path of the UAE.
Penned By: Syed Shafiq. Views Personal. May Not Reflect The Views Of the EurAsian Times