Tuesday 15 September 2020

Unhappy bunnies


So Jeremy Bowen has said something about the Bahrain-Israel peace deal after all, and it's characteristically negative. 

He quoted a tweet from Aaron David Miller:

27 years ago today, I sat on White House South Lawn watching Clinton, Rabin, Arafat famous handshake - foolishly thinking we had reached an irreversible moment in peacemaking. Memo to current/ future peacemakers: don’t hype and over claim. It’s never as good as you think it is.

And then added his own take:

Two years later in 1995 when I left the Bosnian war to become a correspondent based in Jerusalem one eminent colleague said to me “are you crazy? The story’s over in the Middle East. They’re making peace...

But I think even Eeyore-like Jeremy is outdone by Barbara Plett Usher, who doesn't sound at all happy with the latest turn of events in the Middle East. 

  • The Bahrain-Israel agreement is the second case of an Arab state breaking ranks with the longstanding consensus to hold off on peace with Israel until it makes peace with the Palestinians.
  • Bahrain & UAE are tiny Arab monarchies w/o the clout of regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has held the line on Palestinian statehood deal before it normalizes relations w/ Israel. Nevertheless, it has tacitly accepted the moves of its Arab neighbours.
  • The Bahrain-Israel agreement is another setback for the Palestinians. The Arab commitment to refuse normalization with Israel until the end of occupation was one of the few cards the Palestinians held in negotiations for an independent state. 
  • The Arab League did not back the Palestinian request to condemn Arab states ready to normalize with Israel. The League was ready to condemn the Trump peace plan as too pro-Israel. But not other Arab states.  
  • The Bahrain-Israel agreement is a diplomatic win for Trump and Kushner, who’ve been pressing to integrate Israel into the region regardless of a Palestinian settlement. And for Israel, which has always preferred to deal separately with Arab states. 
  • White House talking points suggest how Trump will be framing his intl deal maker credentials for the election campaign: as a harbinger of MidEast peace & prosperity, w/ more Arab & Muslim countries coming on board to normalize relations w/ Israel.
  • The Bahrain-Israel deal (& UAE) will allow Trump to deflect attention from the “Deal of the Century” that he didn’t achieve: Israeli Palestinian peace. That project was widely criticized as heavily slanted in Israel’s favour and rejected by the Palestinians.
  • Focusing outward is the Trump administration’s way of telling the Palestinians they can no longer dictate the region’s relations with Israel.
  • Amn Jewish Peace group: Normalizing relations with distant Arab states that have never fought wars with Israel is fine, but should not be used as a tool to normalize the occupation of Palestinians in Israel’s backyard.

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