The agreement establishing diplomatic relations will be signed at noon today at the White House. This will help Trump in his election campaign and Netanyahu, who is contested at home. Both sides will enjoy mutual benefits in terms of technology and financial resources. Meanwhile, the Palestinians remain increasingly divided and isolated. The number of people present at the ceremony will be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Washington (AsiaNews) – Today at noon, the White House will be the venue for the signing of the ‘’Abraham Accords’, the historic pact aimed at normalising relations and opening diplomatic channels between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (with Bahrain ready to follow), each for their own reasons, and the US President Donald Trump, who plays host in front of TV cameras.
The Palestinians are nowhere to be seen, relegated to the margins if not forgotten, whose feeble voice seems to have less and less weight in the international arena.
For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this is an important moment. Faced with a second coronavirus wave (Israel is the first country in the world to impose a second lockdown), a corruption trial, and street protests, including one just before he left for the United States, he is playing the international card for the sake of his political survival.
For experts, today’s signing ceremony in Washington represents one of his greatest successes, which will be followed by the Israeli flag raising ceremony at the country’s new embassies in Abu Dhabi and Manama. The same will happen for the two Arab states in Tel Aviv.
Now Israelis may even be able admire Saudi territory and coast from their plane on their way east.
Before signing, Netanyahu and Trump will hold a bilateral meeting to be followed by a mini-summit with the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain, who will then have their own tête-à-tête with the US president.
Of course, Trump will sign the agreement as a “witness” or an “observer”. For him, today’s ceremony should boost his re-election chances in November, as the gap with his Democratic rival Joe Biden narrows.
This is a far cry from his predecessor Barack Obama who could not envisage such an outcome given the crisis in relations with Israel at the end of his mandate.
The main signatories, Israel and the UAE, will also benefit. Analysts and experts point to the combined potential of Israeli technologies and Abu Dhabi’s financial power to open new avenues in the Middle East.
In addition to Israeli technology and UAE money, transport and logistics are also at stake, such as Dubai’s airport, the busiest in the world. For many, this is not a pact between two regional powers, but a broader agreement between international players.
Bahrain is expected to follow with others lining up, starting with Saudi Arabia, despite the opposition of its leaders who want an agreement with the Palestinians first.
It will be interesting to see if Netanyahu refers to the issue today or simply illustrates the benefits and concessions included in the process of normalising diplomatic relations with Arab countries, which now join or complete Trump’s so-called “deal of the century“.
For the Palestinians, the story is different. Marginalised, they are increasingly in need of new leaders and greater internal cohesion to play any role and obtain diplomatic benefits and concessions.
All this is happening as Arab countries, with rare exceptions like Algeria and Kuwait, seem increasingly to be turning towards Israel to stand against Iran in the ongoing power shuffle in the Middle east.
The agreement represents a special historical time dominated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has forced ceremony organisers to make necessary adjustments: the hundreds of guests will be “encouraged” to wear masks and respect social distancing, but mouth and nose covering will not be mandatory.
The ceremony will be held at the White House South Lawn, which has more space for the 700 people expected; however, this is half the number of those who attended Trump’s Republican nomination a few weeks ago.