The UAE-Israel peace agreement and the Bahrain-Israel declaration in support of peace have undeniably set a new trend in the Middle East distinct from those of the last century. Such trends, initiated by Egypt and followed by Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority, were merely based on war prevention, conflict restriction, and a certain degree of limited and controlled cooperation.
This new wave of peace agreements is based on reshaping the regional environment into one of cooperation, normalization, and realization of shared interests in various domains.
It was no coincidence that the first application of the UAE-Israeli collaboration was based upon a joint scientific effort to fight the “COVID-19” epidemic, even before the signing of the peace agreement.
Both the UAE-Israel peace agreement and the Bahrain-Israel declaration in support of peace entailed mutual consent on a long list of positive interactivities in numerous areas, ranging from diplomatic exchange to tourism. After the signing took place on the White House lawn, the UAE and Israel’s shared pursuit for collaboration in the technology and energy sectors was highly remarkable.
It was manifested in the signing of the artificial intelligence agreement between the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and the Weizmann Institute of Science, as well as the discussions among relevant ministers of technology, scientific research, and industry regarding cooperation in the development of advanced technologies in the region.
Early this October, the US, UAE, and Israel announced a broad-ranging orientation towards cooperation in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, oil and gas resources, and the complementary saltwater desalination technologies.
Emirati-Israeli talks also took place to discuss cooperation in seizing investment opportunities and enhancing natural gas exports to Europe. Under this framework, the approach to the Palestinian cause has been geared towards resolving the numerous energy crises facing the Palestinian people through energy resources and infrastructure development. It is common knowledge that an understanding has recently been reached between Israel and the Gaza Strip on electrical power provision and granting the Strip more accessibility to Mediterranean fishing grounds.
Indications of this new trend began to manifest in recent years, when cooperation between Egypt and Jordan, on one hand, and Israel, on the other, was no longer limited to the “Qualifying Industrial Zones” (QIZ) initiative, but extended to include to the utilization of new discoveries in Eastern Mediterranean gas, which deepened the cooperation in natural gas production, transportation, liquefaction and processing activities through founding the EastMed Gas Forum, an international organization comprising Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy.
Perhaps one of the most significant aftermaths of this new trend is the bringing forth of a Lebanon-Israeli maritime border demarcation draft agreement. For the longest time, the so-called secret talks between the two countries, mediated by the US, and handled by Ambassador David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, who was assigned to this task, were no secret anymore. The task saw much progress, but Lebanon’s particular circumstances did not allow such a step to be taken given Hezbollah’s objection to it.
What actually happened was that Nabih Berri, Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament and leader of the Amal movement, which is allied to Hezbollah, carried out the mission. Lebanon, undoubtedly overwhelmed by its vast economic burdens, is eager to finalize the agreement in order to resume producing gas in its own economic zones. It is also beyond doubt that neither Hezbollah nor Iran are able to handle Lebanon’s challenging reality.
Could this be a prelude to a demarcation of land borders along with that of the maritime, as was clearly indicated by multiple Lebanese sources? And, if so, does it open the door to a commencement of a Syrian-Israeli peace process?
The new peace wave, brought out to light by the UAE pace agreement, puts the Middle East on a new path that will spare it war and conflict, and bring back hope in the birth of a new Middle East based on security and regional collaboration. The crux of the matter is to change the entire region’s political environment and liberate it from its historical captivity to unresolved conflicts, into the freedom of sustainable development and substantive security and independence for all the peoples of the region.
This could be a more effective method of resolving the Palestinian cause, as we have seen in the Palestinian State demarcation of maritime borders, the development of its energy sector, and, prior to that, the cessation of the annexation of more Palestinian territory.
This piece was originally published in, and translated from, Al Bayan.