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Have We Reached Peace in the Middle East?

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has faced an onslaught of criticisms and threats. These criticisms have become a global topic of discussion between politicians, who make it a part of their mission to create peace in the Middle East. On September 15, a historic peace treaty negotiated by the Trump Administration between Israel, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates was signed. This momentous step toward attaining peace in the Middle East has already begun to usher in economic and social benefits to those involved in its creation, and has made an opportunity for other countries to join in the newfound prosperity and normalize ties with Israel. 

The Abraham Accords are the most recent set of treaties signed into effect, being the first of its kind in over 25 years. Previous deals include the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty negotiated by Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin in 1979 as well as the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty negotiated by Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and Jordanian Prime Minister Majali in 1994. Though these new treaties have been in the works for a while, the number of countries in the Arab world that have agreed to maintain peace with Israel has doubled in the span of one month. Soon after the treaties were released, the White House stated that President Trump’s role in the deal was crucial, as he worked closely with all parties to identify shared interests and opportunities. 

The first agreement listed in the treaty states, “Peace, diplomatic relations and full normalization of bilateral ties are hereby established between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel.” This agreement that full normalization will be worked towards is a new and much needed addition to peace treaties that are brokered with Israel. Past treaties with Egypt and Jordan, though effective in ensuring peace, have not created a relationship that promotes economic and social exchange.

The effects of this new addition can already be seen in a few ways. The first commercial flight carrying Emarati passengers arrived in Israel, and the two countries have created a joint effort to combat and research coronavirus. In addition, journalists have been invited to each country to document reactions to the historic agreement, and government leaders from both Bahrain and the UAE have even agreed to help mediate discussions between Palestinian and Israeli leadership in the hopes of pursuing a two state solution. 

Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said that the UAE wants a durable relationship with Israel, which should include a “people-to-people movement.” In an interview, Gargash expressed that it is important for both Israelis and Emiratis to be exposed to the culture of the other country and to learn empathy for one another so that peace may be maintained by future generations. 

Though many countries are supportive of these agreements, Palestinian leadership has been forthcoming with criticisms of the treaties, and of those that normalize relations with Israel. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has criticized the terms in the deal, as well as Bahrain and the UAE for ever considering signing it. Statements released by one of the leaders of the PLO, Saeb Erekat, includes the phrase, “You killed the two-state solution…you killed any possibility of negotiations.” Later in the press conference, he added that Israel would no longer have an incentive to work towards a two state solution if they knew Arab countries could reach peace with Israel without a two state solution in effect. The former minister of social affairs for the Palestinian Authority (PA) also issued a statement, “We already knew that there has been normalisation going under the table, but to formalize and legalize it that way at this critical moment is shocking. It’s a stab in the back and the back of all Arab nations.” Even Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have released official statements echoing the position of the PLO and PA. 

Critics of the Palestinian leadership’s response quoted Netanyahu’s speech from August, citing the idea that land for peace was no longer the only way that it could be achieved, and that now was going to mark the beginning of a new era, one of peace for peace. 

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Isabelle White is a junior at Highland High School in Utah. ​She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.

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