December 7, 2022

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08/20 Links Pt1: Ben Shapiro: The Remaking of the Middle East; Douglas Murray: The Foreign Office has lost the plot in the Middle East

From Ian:

Ben Shapiro: The Remaking of the Middle East
All are angry for the same reason: The central myth of American Middle Eastern policy, formulated over the course of decades, has been thoroughly exposed. That myth suggested that in order for any peace to bloom in the Middle East, the West would have to apply pressure on the Israeli government to make concessions to the Palestinians — that Israel would have to abandon claims to East Jerusalem, to the Golan Heights, to areas of Judea and Samaria.

That myth had been repeatedly tarnished by events of the last several years. When America moved her embassy to Jerusalem, foreign policy “experts” assured the public that the so-called Arab street would be set aflame. Instead, nothing happened. When America recognized Israel’s formal annexation of the Golan Heights, foreign policy “experts” said that the Middle East would become a tinderbox. Nothing happened.

Now Arab nations are openly forming alliances with the Jewish state, fully acknowledging that Israeli-Palestinian issues remain bilateral in nature. Relations between Jordan and Israel, between the UAE and Israel, between Sudan and Israel, between Egypt and Israel — none now hide behind the fig leaf of Palestinian demands to avoid peace. They have realized that other interests, both economic and security-related, are a top priority. And they have tacitly recognized that Palestinian intransigence is not worthy of their support.

Hilariously, former Vice President Joe Biden tried to take credit for the Israel-UAE deal, suggesting that his own communications with the UAE had paved the way for the agreement. That’s laughable on its face: In 2014, Biden had to issue a formal apology to the UAE government after suggesting that the UAE supported militants in Syria. Biden’s chief contribution to the diplomatic breakthrough was actually the Obama administration’s sycophantic embrace of the Iranian regime: By making clear that the United States could not be relied upon to protect Sunni nations from Iranian predations, the Obama administration convinced Arab nations that their interests lie in security alliance with Israel.

And so, the region has changed for the better. In more honest times, Trump administration officials who brokered this breakthrough would be up for the Nobel Peace Prize; instead, the news has been largely downplayed in favor of the scandal du jour from Trump’s Twitter account. But we should be clear: The first important breakthrough in the Middle East in three decades just took place. And it took place because reality finally set in for Israel’s heretofore enemies: Israel isn’t going anywhere. Perhaps Palestinians will eventually learn the same lesson and peace will truly be possible.

Douglas Murray: The Foreign Office has lost the plot in the Middle East

Last Friday the UN Security Council rejected any extension of the arms embargo on Iran. That embargo — imposed in 2007 — began to get phased out after the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. But a ‘snapback’ provision was put in place intended to allow the return of åall such sanctions should Iran violate the terms of the deal. Iran has been violating those terms for some time, but on Friday, when the United States hoped that its allies would join it in deploring this fact, only the Dominican Republic voted with it. The UK, like France and Germany, chose to abstain. On the question of whether Russia and China should once again start selling arms to Iran, this country apparently takes no view.

It would be nice to be able to say that this was peculiar. But it isn’t. In the same week that Britain abstained at the Security Council the US brokered an historic deal elsewhere in the Middle East. Under its supervision, the United Arab Emirates and Israel signed an agreement to normalise relations. The Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, has now invited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to visit Jerusalem. As the economic and diplomatic benefits of normalisation become clear, other countries in the Middle East are expected to follow suit. Deals like the UAE-Israel agreement are part of a larger attempt to find unity among states wishing to avoid Iranian dominance. Hence President Rouhani’s threatening condemnation of the UAE for its ‘treacherous’ actions. There are rumours of Bahrain and even Saudi Arabia at some point joining the UAE’s acceptance of reality.

In the British Foreign Office, meanwhile, such reality appears to be a world away. Responding to the US-led initiative the Foreign Office (FCO) released a statement which made precisely two curt points. The first welcomed the normalisation. The second consisted of the FCO’s perennial claim: ‘Ultimately, there is no substitute for direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel, which is the only way to a [sic] reach a two-state solution and a lasting peace.’

Defenders of the FCO like to present it as a first-class vessel, cruising along on the deep wisdom accrued from decades of masterly global circumnavigation. Recent events suggest otherwise. Just take last week’s statement. The Foreign Office was insisting that the only way to peace in the Middle East is for ‘direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel’. Yet it was doing so in response to an agreement that demonstrated precisely how unnecessary any such ‘direct talks’ actually are.

The historic nature of the UAE–Israel deal is not just the normalisation itself, but that it demonstrates how states in the region can make peace with Israel without needing to go through the corrupt and rejectionist Palestinian Authority. For decades the wisdom of the FCO (trotted out whichever party is in government) has been that an Israeli-Palestinian ‘two-state solution’ will ‘unlock’ and otherwise solve all the wider problems of the Middle East. It is to this failed venture that British diplomacy remains principally wedded. But if the UAE can reconcile itself to making peace without needing to go through the Palestinian cartel, then why can’t the British Foreign Office?

Amb. Dore Gold: Israel Has Been Making Common Cause with the Victims of Regional Aggression for Decades

Israel has been making common cause with the victims of regional aggression since the early 1960s, when it found itself in a coalition of states, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, opposed to Egypt’s military intervention in Yemen’s civil war. When Jordan faced an armed invasion from Syrian tanks in 1970, Israel understood that it was in its interest to safeguard its neighbor’s territorial integrity.

Until 1971, the UAE was still a British protectorate. The UK announced it would withdraw from all of its positions “east of Suez” by 1972. The UAE thus gained independence at a time when it was clear that Britain would no longer provide security; the new state had to protect itself. After the rise of revolutionary Iran in 1979, the Iranian regime aspired to recover the lands its predecessors once controlled during the era of the Safavid empire.

Israel is not the regional policeman, nor should it attempt to take on such a role. But it must make its contribution to upholding the regional order along with its Arab allies.

Isi Leibler: Affirming civilization, UAE and Israel

Civilization is currently facing the greatest threats since the rise of Nazism. Coronavirus and its social and economic byproducts have resulted in global waves of populism, accompanied by violent demonstrations initiated from elements of the extreme Left and Right.

These elements, in particular the Black Lives Matter movement in America, are exploiting racial issues to host radical antisemitic groups and oppose Israel in their platform.

They systematically riot, torch and loot buildings, beat up innocent civilians, attack police and destroy monuments. They have demanded defunding, reduction and, in some cases, abolition of police forces.

Many “progressives” either endorse or stand aside from this madness, with a number of Democratic mayors going so far as to justify the violent riots and destruction of property as legitimate expressions of protest. In what has awesome parallels to Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, some also seek to repudiate history and substitute it with their crazy, false narratives, which amount to a rejection of Western civilization Many of those involved were incubated in American university campuses where they were brainwashed with this nonsense by anarchistic, radical professors.

The dominant liberal media has downplayed the hatred being disseminated and encouraged “legitimate protests against racism” on the grounds of “undisputed moral authority.”

While purportedly combating racism, these demonstrations have intensified the already prevalent antisemitism from vociferous anti-Zionists and Jew-baiters. The platform of the Movement for Black Lives accuses Israel of engaging in genocide and calls on the US to deny support for Israel. Its leaders include the most vicious antisemites who vociferously promote the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The same applies in the UK, where London Mayor Sadiq Khan has allied himself with those seeking to reject the “slave culture” upon which, he alleges, Britain history was based.

The Tikvah Podcast: Ambassador Ron Dermer on the Israel-U.A.E. Accord

One week ago, the president of the United States, the prime minister of Israel, and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates together announced the normalization of relations between the U.A.E and Israel. This is Israel’s first accord with an Arab nation since 1994, and it is the first time it has ever entered into such an arrangement with an Arab nation with which it does not share a border.

In this week’s podcast, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, explains how this happened, who made it happen, and the consequences it could well have for regional security, regional prosperity, and peace between Israel and her other Arab neighbors.

In conversation with Jonathan Silver, Ambassador Dermer speaks about his hopes for the relationship between Israel and the Emirates, the nations he expects will follow their lead, the ramifications of this accord for the Palestinians, and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s strategic insight about the relationship between diplomatic achievement abroad and commercial, entrepreneurial, and military strength at home.

Israel’s stand against Iranian ambitions brings neighbours to the peace table

The process by which Arab nations have come to find peace with a sworn enemy is a remarkable one – a mix of power politics and pragmatism. For the Gulf States, Iran has long been the chief adversary, spawning tit-for-tat strikes and reprisals and enormous bloodletting through proxy wars in Yemen and Syria. The Sunni States were spooked by the Obama Administration’s signing of the nuclear deal with Iran which resulted in a $150 billion sanctions relief windfall for the regime allowing it to salvage its economy, expand its weapons testing programs and deepen sponsorship of Hezbollah, the Assad regime and the Houthis.

For the Gulf States, seeing US and European leaders literally throwing their arms around the grinning Iranian foreign minister rather than exerting maximum pressure on the regime, or better still, facilitating its collapse, left them feeling utterly exposed. They observed that the world leader most outspoken and fearless in opposing the Iran Deal, and the only one who seemed to truly share their understanding of the brutal malevolence of the Iranian Mullahs, was the Israeli prime minister.

Israel’s rapid transformation from a largely agrarian economy built on socialist ideals to super-charged capitalism from which new technology in medicine, cybersecurity and water management pours forth like the waters of the Jordan, made the Jewish State far harder to ignore, much less boycott. This has meant that world leaders now visit Israel less to hector on behalf of the Palestinians and more to sign agreements to transform their own economies and improve the lives of their citizens.

The self-defeating and baffling Palestinian approach of rejecting three offers of statehood since 2000 and now refusing to even negotiate to end the conflict with Israel has turned wider Arab fatigue with the Palestinian issue into exasperation bordering on total apathy. The perpetual talk of the “Arab street” being alight with pro-Palestinian feeling has been proven hollow enabling Arab leaders to make peace with Israel with no downside.

The decision of the UAE to find peace with Israel will conceivably pave the way for similar treaties with Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, further isolating the Iranian axis. It will also increase Israel’s regional integration and the fulfilment of the vision contained in its Declaration of Independence of achieving “peace and good neighbourliness” with the peoples of the region. This peace treaty has also revealed the realities of Middle East policymaking, vindicating the Israeli Prime Minister in his long-held belief that peace comes through strength and economic utility and not simply by pleading with one’s adversaries for acceptance.

David Horovitz: UAE deal gives Abbas a fresh opportunity; as ever, he seems bent on spurning it

True to form, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas is flailing out angrily in all directions and warming its relations with the terrorist murderers of Hamas, rather than recognizing the opportunity. The UAE has stabbed the Palestinians in the back, the PA says. The deal is despicable and a betrayal. It must be retracted. On Wednesday, Abbas’s Fatah, which claims to seek co-existence, and Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, held a joint rally to showcase their anger.

The Times of Israel’s Haviv Rettig Gur elaborated on the Palestinians’ dead-end strategy in this quite brilliant article on Tuesday: The Palestinians weren’t betrayed by the UAE. They were simply left behind. With the Palestinian leadership giving every indication of again gearing up to fail its people, and ours, Rettig Gur’s piece should be required reading — and most of all, at this moment of opportunity, for those who truly seek a better future for the Palestinians.

In fact, the agreement is a win for Israel, a win for the UAE, and a potential win for the Palestinians too. The Trump plan, US administration officials have said repeatedly since January, is not set in stone. As Kushner also noted on Monday, under the terms of the plan, “Israel has made a very generous offer for a [Palestinian] state, and for land swaps [of territory inside Israel], and the ball is really in the court of the Palestinians now. We welcome them any time to come to the table.”

Furthermore, the Palestinians have repeatedly been told, by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among others, that if they’re not happy with the Trump plan’s provisions, they should present a “counter offer.” Any such counter offer would doubtless seek to achieve a more advantageous allocation of territory for the Palestinians than that set out in the US plan’s conceptual maps, with the potential to reconsider those problematic 15 isolated enclaves, at the negotiating table.

President Donald Trump appears to believe that the Palestinians may yet re-engage. The Palestinians “very much want to be a part of what we’re doing. And I see, ultimately… peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I see that happening,” he said late Thursday. “I think as these very big, powerful, wealthy countries come in, I think the Palestinians will follow, quite naturally.”

I only wish I could share his optimism. (And he must be thinking of a very different leadership in Tehran when he predicts, as he did on Wednesday, that “ultimately, Iran will come in too.)

For the time being, it strongly seems, those who speak for the Palestinians either prize the goal of Israel’s destruction over the well-being of their people, or ally with those who prize the goal of Israel’s destruction over the well-being of their people. A tragic, dead-end strategy, at a moment of opportunity.

Bassem Eid: The Israel-UAE deal shouldn’t take the Palestinian Authority by surprise

There is an Arab proverb that says, “If the cow falls, the knifings will increase.” Unfortunately for the UAE, once the cow that was the expectation of perpetual anti-normalization, boycott and enmity toward the State of Israel fell with the signing of the accord, knives have become unsheathed.

In the meantime, one hopes that more Arab countries will follow the UAE’s example. For the more that Arab states and Israel establish closer relations, the greater the opportunity for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abbas and his apparatchiks aren’t at all interested in seeing Israel develop closer and normalized relations with Arab states because they have based their rule on the continuation of conflict with Israel. However, if over the next 25 years, Palestinians came to see an Arab world prospering from trade and normalized relations with Israel, and were able to oust the current rejectionist regime and establish a democratic state – in which citizens are equal, a state in which Palestinians could exercise their rights to life, freedom of expression and worship and a transparent and accountable state that provides equal opportunities for each and every Palestinian – the greater the opportunity for a final negotiated end to the conflict.

Sadly though, in this bitter milieu of the so-called “Palestinian internationalism,” we find little reason for a glimmer of hope. The state from the river to the sea that Abbas and his minions are talking about will only be a microcosm replica of the dictatorships of the third world and the Arab world in particular.

Therefore, we must start from scratch, as Plato did, by building a solid educational base that builds a generation that breathes from the culture of democracy and the civilization of moderation. A generation that believes in human unity and self-sacrifice for the sake of the group, eliminates corruption, reforms the nation’s condition, and extends its hand to others with peace, love and giving. Finally, let us develop a society in which religion is worship, faith, practice, guiding, and unifying, and not fanaticism, hypocrisy and discrimination.

JCPA: Iran Slams the United Arab Emirates for Peace with Israel

Tensions between Iran and the United Arab Emirates Will Grow

The UAE used to be a major channel for Iran to circumvent U.S. sanctions. However, in the last year and even more since the outbreak of the Corona plague, this channel has been blocked. The United Arab Emirates has taken a number of actions against syndicates that were involved in smuggling goods to Iran. It seems that with the closer relations with Israel and the United States, the UAE’s activity to prevent smuggling from and to Iran will continue. In Iran, calls were heard to “hurt the enemy.” These calls were directed especially against the Emirates and the Emirates’s Crystal Palace (a hint at the UAE business centers), which is waging war against Iran.

Dissatisfied with the UAE, Iran is expected to take several steps and increase its military activity and civilian presence in the disputed islands with the UAE at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz (Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb). Iran will signal to the Emirates that there is a price for its actions, and Iran intends to prove it. At the same time, Iran might once again threaten the freedom of navigation in the Arab Gulf region, warn the United Arab Emirates, and even encourage demonstrations against the UAE’s rulers.

Tehran is confronted with several developments and has to deal with multiple crises simultaneously – both internal ones and in the international arena. The corona plague continues to take a heavy economic and civilian toll on the country. In Lebanon, together with Hizbullah, Iran faces the consequences and challenges of the blast in the Beirut port and among the local residents, which undermines its dream to establish the Second Islamic Republic. Finally, in the international arena, despite the U.S. Security Council victory and the failure of a proposed arms embargo, supported by the Gulf States, Iran will be further mired regarding its nuclear deal especially since the Trump administration is determined to resort to the snapback mechanism to automatically restore the U.N. sanctions on Iran that existed before the 2015 JCPOA agreement.

History Keeps Proving John Kerry Wrong

Kerry would continue to entertain Iranian officials even after he was out of government. When Trump ordered a drone strike of the terrorist Qasem Soleimani, a man who masterminded the killing of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians, Kerry said the world was in “no way at all” safer, and claimed that Trump was risking an “outright war.” All Iran did was launch a performative counterstrike.

Kerry was wrong about Iran. Kerry was also wrong about Israel — a nation he doesn’t ever seem to consider an “ally” in his speeches about Obama’s alleged foreign-policy successes. And when the U.S. embassy was about to be moved to Jerusalem, Kerry warned it would lead to “an explosion” in the Middle East — more specifically, “an absolute explosion in the region, not just in the West Bank and perhaps even in Israel itself, but throughout the region.” Moreover, Kerry declared, it would have a serious and negative repercussions on relations between Israel and the Arab world, making peace far less likely.

Of course, outside of some typical Palestinian noise, the opposite has happened. Only recently, Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to a historic deal that normalized relations between them. They were no doubt partly brought together by the Obama administration’s unprecedented coddling of the mullahs. Other Arab Gulf states are expected join the UAE, though it is well-known that many of them already have clandestine working relationships with Israel. This week, Sudan, the third-largest Arab nation, announced it was close to reaching its own peace deal with the Jewish state.

All of this seems pretty significant. It would surely have been massive news if the Obama administration had helped forge the pacts. Right now, though, Obama has one more Nobel prize than he does a peace agreement. And time keeps proving John Kerry wrong.

Israel-UAE Accord: A New Dawn for Mideast Diplomacy

UAE FM Expects ‘Warm’ Peace With Israel; Embassy to Be in Tel Aviv

Gargash said that peace with Israel was “coming sooner or later” and was part of a larger push by the UAE to engage with the global community.

“We can’t do this while we maintain an exclusive view of the world,” he started. “This is one of the bold and strategic decisions that we made. It will open up the region further. We are very touched by the universal support for the decision from different capitals.”

The minister also insisted that the normalization deal with Israel that was announced last week did not signal an abandonment by the UAE of the Palestinian cause, saying his country was “committed” to a two-state solution and asserting that the accord halted an Israeli government push to annex parts of the West Bank.

“By linking to the agreement to the suspension of annexation, we came out with a good deal,” he commented.

Perhaps to emphasize this, Gargash pointed out that his country’s embassy in Israel would be in Tel Aviv, rather than Jerusalem.

Tel Aviv Extends Visually Stunning Invitation to UEA Tourists

Tel Aviv-Yafo extended a visually exciting invitation to potential visitors from the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, shortly after the State of Israel and the UAE announced an agreement for the normalization of relations between the countries.

Six of the UAE’s most distinctive and impressive landmarks were sculpted from sand at Tel Aviv’s Geula Beach by talented sand sculptor Tzvi Halevi, alongside the greeting “Welcome” in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Landmarks included the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

As Israel and the UAE welcome a new era in regional relations, Tel Aviv-Yafo is eager to attract and welcome new visitors to the city from the Persian Gulf state. An estimated flight time of only three hours between the countries ensures that both destinations are mutually attractive for potential tourists and businesspeople alike.

Tel Aviv-Yafo will also post a short video in the coming days, featuring the sand sculptures, stunning coastline and a multilingual invitation to visit the city. Tel Aviv-Yafo hopes that the video will reach millions of Emirati households and others worldwide wishing to experience everything that the coastal city offers to visitors.

JPost Editorial: Israel needs to realize UAE will use F-35 jets against Iran, not Israel

Israel, accustomed to bad tidings, needs to learn how to deal with good ones.

US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that Israel and the United Arab Emirates – an important, wealthy, technologically advanced Arab state just the narrow Strait of Hormuz away from Iran – have normalized relations. The move, truly historic, holds within it the seeds of dramatically altering the Middle East.

Within minutes, Israelis were raining on the parade.

First it was the Right, angry that one price Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently paid for the deal was agreeing not to extend Israeli law over parts of Judea and Samaria. Then it was Blue and White, miffed that Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi were cut completely out of the loop. And then, in recent days, it was those among the security establishment and the punditry fretting that as part of the deal, the UAE will apparently be able to purchase state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jets that the US has sold to an exclusive group of countries, Israel included.

And while there may be some justification in each of those complaints, it is important to realize that nothing is 100%, everything has a price, and that the enemy of the good is the perfect – meaning that if you hold out for something perfect, you are likely to miss out on getting anything that’s “just” good.

And the deal with the UAE is good – even very good. It formalizes a relationship between one of the Mideast’s richest nations with its leading technological one. It shows that the Arab world is no longer willing to be held hostage by Palestinian rejectionism and unrealistically maximalist demands. It sends a chilling message to Iran that two of its most formidable foes have joined forces. And it opens the door to other Arab countries interested in following the Emirates’ lead.

Honest Reporting: The Price of Peace: Could UAE Deal Jeopardize Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge?

Reports that Israel’s historic peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates included a promise by the US to sell Abu Dhabi advanced F-35 fighter jets have led to many questions being asked by Israeli parliamentarians and the general public . The hot button issue stems from the fact that Israel already has an agreement with the United States to maintain the Jewish State’s military superiority in the Middle East. The UAE’s acquisition of these advanced warplanes could result in Israel losing this edge.

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, concluded early on that the only way the state could continue to exist while surrounded by enemies was to ensure it possessed the most advanced army in the Middle East. The United States informally helped Israel accomplish this goal in the first few decades following its establishment.

Ronald Reagan was the first US president to outright commit to making sure that Israel maintained a Qualitative Military Edge (QME) over its neighbors, and subsequent American leaders have reaffirmed — and even strengthened – that commitment.

In 2008, for example, Congress passed the Naval Vessel Transfer Act (P.L. 110-429). Section 201 of the law requires the US president to make an “empirical and qualitative assessment on an ongoing basis of the extent to which Israel possesses a qualitative military edge.”

UAE senior official: Requests for F-35 fighter jet precedes Israel deal

The United Arab Emirates’ accord to normalize ties with Israel should remove “any hurdle” for the United States to sell the F-35 stealth fighter jet to the Gulf Arab state, a senior Emirati official said on Thursday.

The United States has sold the F-35 to allies including Turkey, South Korea, Japan, and Israel, but sales to the Gulf require a deeper review due to US policy for Israel to maintain a military advantage in the Middle East.

“We have legitimate requests that are there. We ought to get them … the whole idea of a state of belligerency or war with Israel no longer exists,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in an online interview with the Atlantic Council.

However, he said the UAE had not made any new requests to the Americans since the deal with Israel.

The Gulf state, one of Washington’s closest Middle Eastern allies, has long expressed interest in acquiring the fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp, which Israel has used in combat.

An industry insider has told Reuters the United States is eyeing the sale of F-35s to the UAE in a side agreement to the UAE-Israel deal.

Trump: UAE F-35 jets deal ‘under review’ despite Israeli concerns

The US is considering selling F-35 stealth fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday night.

Trump’s comments came two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu detailed multiple occasions in which he told US officials he opposes such a sale. Netanyahu denied reports the deal is part of the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE, and a White House source confirmed it is not in the peace deal.

However, the UAE has made it clear they are interested in buying the plane, both for the past six years and in the days after official ties with Israel were announced. Trump acknowledged this, saying the UAE would like “quite a few F-35s.”

“It’s the greatest fighter jet in the world,” Trump said. “They’d like to buy F-35s, we’ll see what happens. It’s under review.”

Friedman to ‘Post’: Israeli security not undermined in UAE deal

Any future sale of advanced weapons to the United Arab Emirates – including F-35 fighter jets – would be governed by the United States’ obligation to maintain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge, and claims that the peace deal undermines Israel’s security are no more than part of a political assault by the “pro-Iran crowd”, US Ambassador David Friedman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Friedman became the first American official to openly speak about reports that the US has agreed to sell fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets to the UAE in exchange for agreeing to normalize relations and establish formal diplomatic ties with the State of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House have denied that there is a secret clause in the peace deal approving the sale. Netanyahu has said that he shared his objections to a potential sale repeatedly with the Trump administration.

Friedman said that while it was hypothetically possible that the UAE would one day receive permission to purchase F-35s, the procurement and manufacturing process would take “many years and there would be plenty of time for this relationship, and hopefully other peaceful relationships, to develop before anything would occur. Ultimately, under the right circumstances, both the US and Israel would benefit greatly from having a strong ally situated across the Strait of Hormuz from Iran.”

Claims that Israeli security would be at risk, he said, are wrong. The deal, he said, was a clear and decisive win for the UAE, Israel and the US and that “today the region is safer and more stable and the future is far brighter.

“I think it’s just a political assault from the ‘pro-Iran’ crowd seeking to undermine this historic achievement,” he said. “Any sale of weapons by the United States to UAE or any other regional player will continue to be governed by our obligation to maintain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge — that’s the law. This deal creates a host of new opportunities for Israel and America — including in the realm of security — and I believe that many great things will come from it.”

US Law May Prevent F-35 Sale to UAE in Israel Peace Deal

For their survival, Saudis need to follow UAE’s lead

Status quo may be the best option for Israel regarding the Palestinians, but not for the Gulf states. By making a move toward Israel now, it is a calculated risk that being aligned with the regional superpower Israel is the best chance to preserve their monarchies. The Iranian attack on Saudi oil facilities earlier this year opened the eyes of the Gulf leaders to their future if they are not aligned with the Americans and Israel.

Although the UAE has a formidable and professional air force, the Saudis, despite having hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons, are at best a mediocre fighting force, not a match for Iran. The Iranians, despite their antiquated conventional forces, have a sophisticated missile program, and the battle-tested Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps could bring the Saudis to their knees. Shi’ite Persian Iran wants control of Mecca and Medina, the holiest sites in Islam, taken away from Sunni Arab Saudi Arabia.

Mohammad Bin Salman, the crown prince and Saudi leader, knows and has been told by Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Kushner, and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien that he is in the crosshairs of Iran, and to survive he needs to get out of the closet and openly align with Israel. As Amos Yadlin, director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies said, Saudi Arabia will be closely watching this “trial balloon.”

Some will say that the conservative Wahabi monarchy is not capable of making such a step. A couple of months ago, the same was said about the UAE.

Trump says he expects not only Saudis, but also Iran, to make Middle East peace

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday night he expected Saudi Arabia to join Arab normalization with Israel, hours after the country’s foreign minister ruled out any formalized ties before an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. He then said he believed Iran would ultimately “come in too.”

During a press conference, a reporter asked the president if expects Riyadh to follow Abu Dhabi’s lead and open up relations with the Jewish state. “I do,” Trump replied.

A short time later, after discussing the possibility of the UAE buying US F-35 fighter jets and the importance of the Israel-UAE deal, he added: “I see a lot of countries coming in fairly quickly. And when you have them all in, ultimately Iran will come in too. There’ll be peace in the Middle East. That’ll be nice. Iran will be very much neutralized. They never thought this could have happened. And with the horrendously stupid Iran deal signed by Obama, this could have never happened.”

He did not elaborate further.

Saudi Arabia has cautiously backed the Israel-UAE deal but said it will not make peace with Israel until the Palestinians do. Iran is avowedly committed to the destruction of Israel, supports Hezbollah, Hamas and other terror groups, has castigated regional states that legitimize Israel, and is believed by Israel and the US to be seeking a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Kushner extends US peace offer to Iran, says Trump ready to talk, meet leaders

The United States is willing to enter peace negotiations with Iran if US President Donald Trump is reelected in November, top White House official Jared Kushner said, as Washington tries to snap back UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said the US president would be willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other leaders, in an interview with Voice of America conducted Tuesday and published Wednesday.

“For President Rouhani, I would say it’s time for the region to move forward,” he said. “Let’s stop being stuck in conflicts of the past. It’s time for people to get together and to make peace.”

“Peace is a noble thing. It’s a good thing and it’s a very important thing, if we want to have a world where everyone can have economic opportunity in order to live a better life than their parents,” Kushner said.

“President Trump is willing to talk. He’s willing to meet [Iran’s leaders]. But … he’s going to be tough,” he added.

Iran Says It Detained a UAE Ship, Its Crew on Monday: State TV

Iran seized a United Arab Emirates-registered ship violating its territorial waters this week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, adding that UAE coastguards killed two Iranian fishermen on the same day.

Tensions have risen between the two countries, which face each other across the Gulf, since last week’s agreement between the Gulf state and Tehran’s arch-foe Israel to normalize ties.

Iranian state television quoted a ministry statement as saying that the Emirati ship was seized by Iran’s coastguards and its crew were detained due to illegal traffic in Iranian waters.

It added that on the same day, UAE guards shot dead two Iranian fishermen and seized a boat. It said the UAE has apologized for the incident.

The UAE Foreign Ministry declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

The Iranian statement said Iran summoned the UAE charge d’affaires in Tehran after the incident to demand the release of the detained boat and the fishermen.

“As a result of Iran’s efforts, the UAE authorities … in a note on Wednesday, expressed their deep regret over the incident and announced their readiness to compensate for all the damage caused,” it said.

Seth Frantzman: Kuwait’s anti-Israel rhetoric in spotlight after UAE deal

On the surface there’s no reason why Kuwait, the kingdom at the end of the Persian Gulf, would be a leading critic of Israel.

Not only does it have no historical connection to Israel, either positive or negative, it is also far away from the Jewish state.

However, in the wake of the UAE decision to normalize relations with Israel, Kuwait has appeared to be the coldest toward Israel of all states in the Gulf.

Kuwait has indicated it would be the last country to normalize relations with Israel, according to a report on Sunday in the Al-Qabas daily newspaper.

Clearly, Kuwait feels pressure to comment after the Abu Dhabi decision. It is known that Oman and Bahrain are more keen on relations with Israel and that Qatar holds discussions with Israel in the context of funding Gaza. This leaves Kuwait as an exception.

The explanation for Kuwait’s exceptionalism is complex. In the 1960s and 70s, many Palestinians moved to Kuwait, and the country played a formative role in their life.

Later when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait the Palestinians supported him, seeing him as the region’s most anti-Israel leader.

This led Kuwait to expel hundreds of thousands of Palestinians after the country was liberated by the US-led coalition.

One might imagine that Kuwait, with its many US bases and close relations with Saudi Arabia and the West, might be more flexible regarding Israel. Instead, it has been staunch in its pro-Palestinian approach and not wanting to deviate from this more hardline position.

Inaccuracies in BBC reporting on the Israel-UAE agreement – part one

Not only did the BBC repeatedly promote that notion of an Israeli ‘plan’ that does not currently exist in those items and others but viewers of the BBC News channel on August 13th were erroneously led to believe that a US official had expressed opposition to it.

The BBC’s State Department correspondent Barbara Plett Usher told viewers (from 02:15 here) that:
“…what happened is that the Israeli prime minister began to say he was going to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and in a quite unusual move the US ambassador to the UAE made a very public appeal to the Israelis. He had an article printed in the Hebrew press. He also sent a video in which he said if you do this we will not be able to move forward with any sort of normalisation…”

Plett Usher repeated the same inaccurate claim in an edition of the programme ‘Outside Source’.

“There was a very direct intervention by the US ambassador to the UAE in June in which he said directly to the Israelis if you go ahead with this, this is going to jeopardise any relations you want with the Arab countries.”

The US ambassador to the UAE (Ambassador Rakolta) made no such statements. The op-ed and the video were in fact produced by the UAE’s current ambassador in the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba.

Unfortunately for audiences seeking to understand this story’s background, those were far from the only inaccuracies in BBC reporting on this topic, as we shall see in part two of this post.

Inaccuracies in BBC reporting on the Israel-UAE agreement – part two

While Knell has now taken that amplification even further by falsely claiming that the Oslo Accords included the same condition, she was not the only BBC journalist to promote the unilateral Saudi peace initiative as some kind of authority.

Viewers of the BBC News channel were told by Barbara Plett Usher (from 03:30 here) on August 13th that:
Plett Usher: “…this is a really big breakthrough for Israel. This is the way they want to do it: to have those peace agreements state by state rather than resolving their conflict with the Palestinians first and then having a regional peace, which has been the framework until now.”

Plett Usher told viewers of ‘Outside Source’ on the same TV channel on the same day that:
Plett Usher: “This upends the collective regional arrangement for peace. So since the Jordan peace treaty in 1994 there’s been an agreement that there wouldn’t be any further normalisation until there was peace with the Palestinians and until they had an independent state and they don’t have that and yet the UAE has gone ahead with this agreement. So the Palestinians feel angry, betrayed, stabbed in the back; that sort of thing.”

The Saudi proposal of course came into being eight years after the signing of agreements between Israel and Jordan and Plett Usher failed to clarify its unilateral nature.

Palestinians Won’t Take Part in UAE World Fair; World Devastated (satire)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced Monday that the Palestinians will boycott next year’s Expo (world fair) in Dubai following the UAE’s opening of diplomatic relations with Israel. In the statement he said, “Palestinians have much to offer the world, more than the Israelis and the US, and the world will have to reckon with our absence next year.

A spokesperson for the UAE responded: “We were devastated to hear that the Palestinians will not attend. Who will teach us 80 different ways to say ‘no’?”

Following the announcement of diplomatic relations between two countries, Israel will take part in the Expo in Dubai; UAE officials said they are overjoyed that Israel, a global leader in health, defense, hi-tech and anti-Iranian technology, will participate in the fair. “The time has come to unite in what makes us similar rather than what makes us different,” one Expo official said. He continued, “the Expo is a chance for every nation to display what their nations do best and how they contribute to global society. If we ever need someone to demonstrate how to make everyone around them miserable and waste billions of dollars, then we’ll be sure to reach out to our Palestinian brothers.”

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