UAE Deal Political Cover for Bibi’s West Bank Plans

  • Netanyahu is unlikely to annex the West Bank anytime soon.
  • The US ultimately decides whether Israel can move forward with the plans.
  • Netanyahu has claimed that the annexation plans are on hold for now.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had a rutted few months trying to appease a nation that has become increasingly critical of his leadership. Tens of thousands of Israelis continue to take part in demonstrations across the country calling for his resignation.

The Israel–United Arab Emirates peace agreement, or the Abraham Accord, was agreed to by Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020. If an agreement is signed, the UAE will be the third Arab country, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to formally normalize its relationship with Israel, as well as the first Persian Gulf country to do so.

Most are against his handling if the coronavirus crisis, which has left many people jobless. In a nutshell, over 800,000 Israelis have lost their jobs since January due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What’s more worrying is that the Netanyahu government has yet to enact policies to buoy the economy and provide for the affected families. A sizeable number of protesters are also against having an indicted leader.

With his West Bank annexation plans now overshadowed by the latest sequence of events, he recently announced the normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE. According to the announcement made by US President Donald Trump, the deal between the two countries also saw the suspension of the West Bank annexation plans.

That said, however, the two countries have actually never been at loggerheads, and have for decades, kept their close ties under wraps. The only difference this time is the public declaration of their behind-the-scenes cooperation. Appending the West Bank annexation plans to the agreement simply allows Netanyahu to ditch the annexation plans while saving face.

Annexation of the Jordan Valley is the proposed application of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. The idea has been advocated by some Israeli politicians since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began in 1967, most notably with the Allon Plan and the 2019 Netanyahu plan.

In reality, his plan was already starting to fall apart. It was facing tremendous resistance from foreign powers, such as the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the UN. Proceeding with the plans would not only tear down the progressive relationship that Israel has struggled to maintain internationally, but also undermine ties with its Islamic neighbors.

What It Means for the Palestinians

The announcement made by US President Donald Trump about Israel pausing its takeover of the West Bank is significant. It means that the Trump administration will be hesitant to back the annexation plans if Netanyahu ever decides to push forward.

On his part, Netanyahu has formally stressed that his plans to take over the West Bank region are only on hold for the moment. Given his current political woes, doing so would only make him more unpopular abroad.

Ultimately, Trump’s decision to support stronger ties with the UAE as opposed to the West Bank annexation holds more weight. As affirmed by Netanyahu, there will be no progress if the US chooses to oppose the move.

“Extending sovereignty will be done only alongside the United States. Without coordination, in the best case, will do nothing, and in the worst case, will harm relations between us. The United States asked that Israel temporarily postpone annexation,” he said.

Some Israeli settler leaders in the West Bank are unhappy with Netanyahu’s latest decision to ditch the appropriation plans. For some, he has broken a promise to fulfil a long-held dream, and this might taper his political appeal in the zone.

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Samuel Gush

Samuel Gush is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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