Monday, August 31, 2020

From Ian:

Netanyahu: We have invited the UAE delegation to Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday evening that Israel invited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) delegation to Israel to be "welcomed on a red carpet, as well," following the arrival of the Israeli and US delegations in Abu Dhabi.

Israel will one day be recognized and make peace with the rest of the Middle East, Netanyahu said. "There are many things I cannot tell you, but I am sure you will find out in time," Netanyahu said, suggesting that Israel is currently in talks with other Arab states.

"I felt an immense pride," Netanyahu said after seeing the Israeli flags waving when the Israeli and US delegations landed in Abu Dhabi on Monday. "This is a new age in our history."

Netanyahu further spoke on the school year, which begins on Tuesday and has been a subject of much debate due to coronavirus regulations, and stated that a final decision on the operation of the school year will be reached by the end of the day.


Israel-UAE flight lands safely in Abu Dhabi, F-35 talks to be held
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trusts US President Donald Trump not to endanger Israel’s security, White House Special Adviser Jared Kushner said on Monday, aboard the first-ever direct El Al flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu and the president will discuss that at some point,” Kushner said, when asked about the possible sale of F-35 stealth jets to the UAE, which is controversial in Israel.

Kushner said that Trump can be trusted to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, but that the US also has a decades-long defense partnership with the UAE.

“I’m sure Mr. Netanyahu sees the opportunities coming from this relationship,” he added.

As for the first Israeli flight over Saudi Arabia, Kushner said the Saudis are “very gracious,” and that the flight is “a manifestation of what is possible in the Middle East.”

“We can take it as a sign,” Kushner said. “It’s an encouragement for this progress.”

Netanyahu radioed in a message to the plane while it was flying over Saudi Arabia.

Responding to questions as to which Middle Eastern countries may make peace with Israel next, Kushner chuckled, saying: “I know the people in Israel well, and when there’s an accomplishment, they say what’s next. I’m going to ask the Israeli people for just one day...let’s take a moment to celebrate.”
The Historic First Israel-UAE Flight, named the 'Peace Plane', Takes Off


Historic First Flight From Israel to UAE Lands in Abu Dhabi, Kushner Addresses Media


‘Join us’ in peace, Kushner urges region, as El Al flight brings Israelis to UAE
Stepping off the first ever direct Israeli flight to the United Arab Emirates on Monday afternoon, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner hailed the start of peace between Israel and the UAE and urged the rest of the region and the world to “join us.”

Kushner flew on an El Al plane as part of a joint US and Israeli delegation that also included US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and the head of Israel’s National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat. The flight, which saw the plane travel through Saudi Arabian airspace — another first — came in the wake of a US-brokered normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE, announced on August 13.

On the tarmac Kushner gave a short speech, thanking Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE’s de facto ruler, as well as Saudi Arabia, for allowing the Israeli plane to fly over its airspace.

“Mohammed bin Zayed is truly leading the new Middle East,” he said. “The Middle East is filled with brilliant, industrious, tolerant and innovative people, and the future belongs to them,” he added. “I ask everyone today to join us in celebrating this peace, and to help us expand it throughout the region and the entire world.”

He quipped that officials onboard wanted the plane to fly faster so they could get to their destination sooner to celebrate the normalized ties. “While this peace is forged by its leaders it is overwhelmingly desired by its people,” he said.

Kushner slammed what he said were the few who oppose the Israel-UAE deal. “They exploit division to maintain power,” he said.

In response to a question from a reporter, Kushner said the US has done a lot to help the Palestinians reach peace, but they are not ready. “We can’t want peace more than they want peace,” he said. “When they are ready, the whole region is very excited to help lift them up and help move them forward. But they can’t be stuck in the past.”



Kushner: We Don't Seek to Isolate the Palestinians But We Won't Reward Bad Behavior
In an interview with Politico’s Playbook on Thursday, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner defended actions by the Trump administration to cut U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and blamed the PA leadership for the crisis.

“Our strategy has not been to isolate the Palestinians. Our strategy has just been to not do stupid things,” Kushner said, explaining why the administration has cut off aid as the PA grapples with ongoing financial crises in the West Bank and Gaza. Kushner said he told representatives of the “Quartet” — a group comprised of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States — on Wednesday that the Palestinians are complaining about what he called “a self-made financial crisis” because they are unwilling to take the money Israel is ready to transfer from an escrow account.

Kushner also addressed the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza. ”The only reason why they have conflict is because they’re shooting rockets on buildings in Israel.”

“In the past, people would rush and try to help them, but we just haven’t rewarded bad behavior,” Kushner stressed. “When they came out, they started criticizing America when we moved the [U.S.] embassy [to Jerusalem], we basically said, OK, we’re not sending you money anymore.’ We’re not going to send American taxpayer money over to a country, to a people who basically insult America and take [us] just for granted. So we’ve just taken a common-sense approach. We’ve tried not to do stupid things again.”

Kushner suggested that by rebuilding trust with Israel and Gulf countries and by showing “he’s not going to be intimidated,” President Donald Trump “could actually be the first person to lead the Palestinian people to a place where they have self-determination, hope and a lot of economic opportunity” if they choose to return to the negotiation table. “They now have a proposal on the table for a Palestinian state from Israel — something they did not have [at the] beginning of this administration — and there is a map that Israel has agreed to negotiate on the basis of that has never been done before in the history of negotiations.”
Kushner visits Western Wall prior to historic flight en route to UAE
A United States delegation, led by Senior Advisor to the US President Jared Kushner, visited the Western Wall on Sunday.

Kushner was accompanied by United States National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz, outgoing US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook in addition to other senior diplomats who were also present on the tour.

Kushner is currently leading a high level US delegation on a Middle East tour that started in Israel, and will run this week through the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and possibly Oman and Morocco.

While in Israel, the delegation traveled to the Western Wall to pray preceding their trip to the United Arab Emirates in order to consolidate the US-brokered Israel-UAE deal, and convince other countries to get on board.

The US diplomats were greeted at the Wall by the Director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation Mordechai (Suli) Eliav. He gave the delegation a rundown on how the holy site has been operating amid the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to how the Wall serves as a representation for "maintaining the routine of prayer and visits while abiding by directives."

Netanyahu: Israel Is Holding Many More Secret Talks with Arab States on Normalizing Ties
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem on Sunday with U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner. Netanyahu said, "We're all thrilled by the swift pace of normalization between Israel and the UAE. Yesterday, the Emirates officially abolished the anachronistic boycott of the Jewish state. This opens the door for what I can only call unbridled trade, tourism, investments, exchanges between the Middle East's two most advanced economies."

"For far too long, the Palestinians have had a veto on peace, not only between the Palestinians and Israel, but between Israel and the broader Arab world....They planned to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration. So if we have to wait for the Palestinians, we would have to wait forever. Well, no longer."

"Two years ago, I visited Oman. One year ago, I visited Chad. Half a year ago, I met with the leader of Sudan....There are many more unpublicized meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders who recognize that their true interests are to normalize relations with the State of Israel."
Khaleej Times-UAE: A Good Deal for the UAE
By swiftly scrapping the 1972 Israel boycott law, the UAE has now fully formalized its peace deal with Israel. This commercially sensible step paves the way for greater partnerships that will work in the best interests of the people in these two nations. Individuals and companies based in the UAE will be able to collaborate with Israeli firms and openly trade in services and have access to fresh markets. The UAE's position as a gateway to the wider Arab world would be particularly useful to the Israelis.

The deal is monumental, far-thinking, and certain to pay dividends over the years. The UAE's quiet diplomacy sees peace in interfaith harmony and reason in dialogue. It is a nod to voices of reason that believe peace and development logically follow trade and commerce.
Moroccan Criticism of UAE Peace Deal Fades
The Arab world was strangely quiet in the wake of the United Arab Emirates' announcement of peace with Israel. The "Arab street" did not explode. Far from the region, Morocco's Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani criticized the peace deal. What happened next is significant. Days later, he walked back his remarks, saying he was speaking in his personal capacity, not as a government official. This "clarification" is telling.

Othmani does not speak for Morocco on foreign policy. Under Morocco's constitution, foreign policy, diplomacy and national security are the exclusive province of the king. Many Arabs, myself included, are hoping for the day when Arabs and Israelis can peacefully prosper together through tolerance, trade, tourism and cultural exchange.


No substitute for peace with the Palestinians
The United Arab Emirates made a brave, important decision when it opted to normalize relations with Israel without waiting for us to make peace with the Palestinians. The Emirati decision this past weekend to end its boycott of Israel, which was made by acting leader of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed Ben Zayed, is especially important, and we can hope that other Arab states will do the same, whether they establish diplomatic ties with or wait.

The fact that the Arab world didn't attack the Emirates and responded with a mix of support and silence is encouraging. Apparently, they learned from bitter experience after the boycott of Egypt after Cairo signed a peace treaty with Israel 40 years ago. The two Muslim states that criticized the UAE most harshly were non-Arab countries: Iran and Turkey (which does have diplomatic relations with us).

The El Al flight that takes off today for Abu Dhabi is not some minor event, and even it's true that Israel and the Emirates have maintained business and defense ties for decades, secret relations cannot be compared to open diplomatic relations. It's day and night.

In 1994-95, after the Oslo Accords, we went to the Gulf States and North Africa and opened diplomatic missions in several countries, where Israeli representatives filled the role of ambassador. Back then, we hoped that as a result of the annual economic conferences in which Israel took part, and as negotiations with the Palestinians progressed, that soon the missions would become official embassies and we would be able to normalize with pragmatic Arab states. But that window of opportunity closed when Israel changed its policy on the Palestinian issue at the start of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first term. What the prime minister is doing today, with help from the Trump administration, rectifies what he ended 25 years ago, and this is a good thing.

But we have to remember that the UAE deal is no substitute for peace with the Palestinians. If we don't hurry up and draw a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state, the current situation – regardless of the welcome normalization with some of the Arab world – will turn into a one-state reality in which a minority will rule over the majority and that, heaven forbid, would be the end of the Zionist dream.
Former U.S. Envoy Greenblatt: The Door to the White House Has Remained Open to the Palestinians
Former U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt told The Media Line, "Unless and until the Palestinian leadership gets its house in order, particularly between Hamas and the PA, and unless and until they are willing to negotiate realistically and in good faith, directly with Israel, and not resort to trying to get other countries and organizations such as the UN to circumvent direct negotiations with Israel, little can be done on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

"But that is a choice that the Palestinian leadership has made in the past with other peace efforts as well, to the significant detriment of the Palestinians. What the UAE-Israel deal does show is that the Arab-Israeli conflict can actually be resolved, even if only on a piecemeal basis, without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

"The door to the White House has remained open since the Palestinians cut ties back in December 2017....If the Palestinians come back in good faith, they will be welcomed....The only entry fee is a willingness by the Palestinians to negotiate realistically and in good faith."
WAPO: Palestinians Are Not Ready to Restore Ties with Israel
When Palestinians cut off long-standing security, financial and civil ties with their Israeli counterparts in May, they pledged not to resume them until Israel gave up its plans to extend Israeli law to Jewish communities in the West Bank. But when these plans were halted as part of a diplomatic breakthrough between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Palestinian leaders condemned the UAE for normalizing relations with Israel. Weeks later, they still will not restart cooperation, rebuffing European and Arab allies that pushed them to end a policy that seemed to be hurting everyday Palestinians more than Israel.

Public coffers are being drained and civil servants are on half pay because the Palestinian Authority refuses to accept tax and customs payments from Israel. More than 25,000 babies born in the West Bank have not been registered by Israeli civil authorities, making them ineligible for passports.

The response in the Arab world was far from what Palestinian leaders wanted. Bahrain, Egypt and Oman expressed support for the UAE deal. Kuwait and other Arab states in the Persian Gulf declined to condemn it. Palestinian requests for an emergency response from the Arab League have so far produced little.
Hungary Defends Israel at EU Foreign Ministers' Summit
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto stood up for Israel at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers on Thursday.

He wrote in a Facebook post, "The European Union must...discontinue its anti-Israeli policies. Instead of criticism based on unilateral and biased opinions, it is time to stress partnership."

"As a first and perhaps most important step, the European Union should immediately cease the financial support of NGOs that threaten the internal security of Israel, conduct anti-Israeli policies, and interfere in the internal affairs of the country."

PMW: Time for Arabs states to reconsider the Arab Peace Initiative
Since the announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are to normalize relations, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party have denounced the move. One of their central claims is that the move violates the Arab unity and support for the “Arab Peace Initiative” (API).

PLO Executive Committee Secretary, Saeb Erekat, made the point:
“The Palestinian leadership demands that the Arab League General Secretariat and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) do all that is required of them and defend the decisions of the Arab and Islamic summit conferences, and especially the Arab Peace Initiative, and not deviate from the international institutions’ resolutions regarding the Palestinian cause…”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 19, 2020]


The API was adopted by the Arab League in 2002. Sponsored by Saudi Arabia, the API was launched just one day after the Passover meal massacre in the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 Israelis were murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber.

From the outset, it was clear that the API did not truly lay out a vision for peace. Rather, it was merely a restatement of the same positions held by the Arab countries since 1948, disguised with the bait of Arab recognition for the existence of the State of Israel.

In a nutshell, the API demanded that Israel:
- Consent to unilaterally withdraw from all the remaining territories gained in the 1967 Six Day War, including the entire Gaza Strip, all of the West Bank, the Golan Heights and also withdraw from Lebanese territory allegedly still held by Israel;
- Consent to the creation of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital;
- Agree to flood itself with millions of so-called Palestinian refugees, which the Arab states committed to not absorbing.

In return for Israel fulfilling the demands, the API suggests that the Arab countries would enter into an agreement and normalize relations with Israel.
Palestinians outraged by Israeli delegation's visit to UAE
Palestinians from across the political spectrum on Monday reacted with fury to the first official visit of an Israeli delegation to the United Arab Emirates and again accused the Gulf state of “stabbing the Palestinian people in the back.”

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the Palestinians were “deeply pained” to see an Israeli aircraft land in the UAE.

Shtayyeh noted that the aircraft carried the name of the “colony of Kiryat Gat, which was built on the lands of the village of Faluja, where Gamal Abdel Nasser was besieged.”

Shtayyeh was apparently referring to the military confrontation between the IDF and the Egyptian army during the 1948 War of Independence. Palestinians say that Kiryat Gat was built on lands which once belonged to the villages of Faluja and Iraq al-Manshiya in southern Israel.

The Egyptian army occupied the area in May 1948, but was later defeated by the IDF in a counter-offensive operation. The Egyptian troops included a young officer, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who later became president of Egypt.

Shtayyeh said that the arrival of the Israeli aircraft in the UAE was a “clear and blatant violation of the Arab position regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The Palestinians, he said, “were hoping to see an Emirati aircraft land in the liberated city of Jerusalem, but we are living in the difficult Arab era.”

He praised some Arab states for refusing to follow suit with the UAE and normalize their relations with Israel.

“On this occasion, we salute the Arab positions rejecting free normalization with Israel,” Shtayyeh added. “The Arabs foiled the recent trip of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, despite the pressure exerted on some Arab countries.”

Shtayyeh revealed that since the beginning of this year, the Palestinian Authority did not receive any financial aid from the Arab countries. “All the American financial aid to us and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has stopped,” he said. “In addition, Israel is trying to blackmail us regarding the tax revenue funds. We will have to take a $350 million loan from the banks in order to pay half of the salaries to our employees.”
Police treating attack on Yehuda Glick as nationalistic crime
The police are treating the June 4 attack on former Likud MK Yehudah Glick when he visited the east Jerusalem house of mourning for Iyad Halak as a nationalistic crime.

Legal aid organization Honenu provided The Jerusalem Post on Monday with an Israel Police document that indicated the police believe they have reasonable grounds to treat the incident as battery with aggravating circumstances of being tied to hostility to the State of Israel.

The recognition for Glick as being a victim of a nationalistic crime can grant him financial and health compensation from the state.
In addition, one of the attackers involved has already cut a plea deal to serve five months in prison and pay NIS 4,000 in compensation to Glick, Honenu said.

“We will act to ensure that justice is done to those who caused harm,” said attorney Hayim Bleicher, who works for Honenu and is assisting Glick.

Glick said: “The most important thing is the obligation of the Israeli police to create effective deterrence so that a Jew will not be fearful of walking down the street anywhere in Israel and even more so in Jerusalem.”

Glick was severely beaten in early June when he visited the bereaved family of Halak, an unarmed autistic Palestinian man who was mistakenly shot and killed by a Border Police officer in late May.
Shin Bet confirms last week’s fatal Petah Tikva stabbing was terror attack
The Shin Bet security service on Monday confirmed that the deadly stabbing in Petah Tikva last week was a terror attack, as was initially suspected.

“In a joint investigation by the Shin Bet and Israel Police it was determined that the assailant acquired a knife and carried out the attack out of nationalist motives,” the security service said.

According to Israeli authorities, last Wednesday afternoon the suspected terrorist — Khalil Abd al-Khaliq Dweikat, 46, from the village of Rujeeb in the northern West Bank — stabbed to death Rabbi Shai Ohayon near the Segula Junction on the outskirts of the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva. Dweikat could be seen on traffic camera footage walking away from the scene on foot after the attack, and he was captured a short distance away.

Upon his arrest, officers searched the suspect and found a bloodstained knife that was apparently used in the attack, police said.

Ohayon, a 39-year-old father of four, was a member of Petah Tikva’s ultra-Orthodox community and studied full time at a religious institution known as a kollel in the nearby town of Kfar Saba, according to Haredi news outlets.

In its statement, the Shin Bet accused Dweikat of violating his work permit at the time of the attack by remaining in Israel for several days in a row when he was required to return home each night.
Israel-Gaza border resident: 'The resilience of myself and people is breaking.'


'Only Sephardi Jews have the right to live in Palestine'
Speaking with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad-affiliated Al-Quds Al-Yaum on Aug. 19, Palestinian Islamic scholar Omar Fora warned that Israel "does not endanger the Palestinian people alone."

Israel, he said, refused to open its embassy east of the Nile River because it considers all the land from the eastern bank of the Nile to the Euphrates River to be part of the biblical land of Israel.

"Therefore," said Fora, "it established its embassy west of the Nile, because it considers the land west of the Nile to be outside its territory." Fora continued by saying that "The Jewish state aspires to establish a "Greater Israel" stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates, and will eventually demand lands in Medina and other regions of the Arabian peninsula."

"Israel is not about to achieve these Zionist or biblical ambitions now," said Fora, "but Israel wants to establish 'Greater Israel.'"

"By Allah," he went on to say, "the day will come when Israel demands lands in Medina, the lands of [the Jewish tribes of] Qurayza, Nadhir, and Banu Qaynuda, as well as the lands of Khaybar."

This, he said, was the true goal of the Zionist movement.

Fora emphasized that he had no issue with Judaism, only with Zionism, but said that not all Jews would have the right to live in a Palestinian state.

"The only Jews that have a right to live with us in Palestine, under our patronage and our authority, are those who have been living in Palestine," he said. "But the Ashkenazi Jews, who came from overseas, from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Poland, and settled in this land – they should go back to where they came from."




Lebanon on Brink of Civil War, Macron Says Ahead of Post-Blast Beirut Visit








MEMRI: Assad Regime Forced To Admit: Number Of COVID-19 Cases In Syria Higher Than Official Health Ministry Figures
In the recent weeks, Syria has seen a surge of COVID-19 cases in areas under the control of the Assad regime. According to data released by the Syrian Health Ministry, cases began to spike in July, with 478 new infections confirmed, more than the total of cases confirmed from the outbreak of the virus in the country until the beginning of that month.[1] In August the spread of the virus accelerated, and by August 25 the number of cases reached 2,365, and the number of deaths stood at 95. [2]

However, Syrian opposition elements have been claiming for months that the true number of cases in Syria is much higher, and that the regime is hiding the real figures and even arresting healthcare professionals who disclose accurate information about the spread of the disease.[3] Recently, in an unusual step, pro-regime elements also agreed that the figures released by the regime do not reflect the reality on the ground, due to insufficient testing for COVID-19. This claim was voiced by doctors and healthcare officials in regime-controlled areas, as well as by pro-regime journalists and media outlets. They warned that the real number of cases and deaths is several times higher than the official figure, and called on the regime to stop publishing inaccurate data. In addition, the Syrian government daily Teshreen and the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, known for supporting the Assad regime, criticized the regime's handling of the coronavirus crisis, accusing the government and its ministries of negligence and incompetence that only exacerbates the spread of the disease. The criticism eventually prompted the regime to admit that the official figures were inaccurate.

This report reviews the claims by pro-regime elements in Syria regarding the inaccuracy of the coronavirus statistics reported by the regime, and the criticism against the regime's handling of the crisis.
'Erdogan is concealing Turkey's true corona figures'
The reopening of skies and doors to foreign tourists has given many economies across the globe a much-needed shot in the arm, but one country is lagging far behind despite its seemingly reasonable morbidity rates – Turkey. According to the country's official figures, 1,491-1,549 people have contracted the coronavirus over the past three days and between 26-39 people have died. In a country with 83 million citizens, these are relatively good numbers; the rest of the world, however, doubts their veracity.

Turkey remains a "red" country from the perspective of the Israeli Health Ministry and most Western countries, primarily because of the view that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's and his health minister, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, have artificially suppressed the true figures. Now Erdogan, who has seen his popularity plummet over the past two years, is being assailed not only by his political opponents but by his old ally, former prime minister and foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu.

"The most egregious thing taking place in Turkey today is the concealment of the morbidity rates," Davutoğlu has repeatedly told members of his "Gelecek Partisi" (the Future Party).

This criticism is extremely significant because although Davutoğlu is not the first to criticize Erdogan for his handling of the corona pandemic, it is the first time such criticism has "come from home." Yes, Davutoğlu is no longer a member of Erdogan's Justice and Development party, having created a party of his own, but he is a political leader who espouses Neo-Ottomanism, similar to and even more extreme than Erdogan on this matter.

Moreover, Davutoğlu's status as an academic in Turkey, as a professor of political science and international relations, is also renowned. In this context, the experienced politician is capitalizing on his status. "Many professors, academics, and medical experts complain they have no access to information sources," he lambasted his former partner, Erdogan. "The members of the scientific committee are three-five ministers, the president's relatives and health ministry officials who are under no external oversight."
Iran and Turkey sing from the same sheet of music against Israel-UAE rapprochement
Seen in this light, the peace agreement reads as a failure of Iran’s intimidation policy. Nevertheless, the regime is doubling down. Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has warned of “a dangerous future for… the residents of the glass palace,” alluding to Emirati security as fragile, while a hardline clerical association cautioned that the UAE would bear the “cost” of this move. Tehran has not been afraid to back these words with deeds, and recently detained a UAE vessel.

For Ankara’s part, their foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the deal, using a tone reminiscent of the Islamic Republic. Ankara accused the UAE of attempting “to present its betrayal to the Palestinian cause as an act of altruism” and vowed, “The history and the conscience of the people in the region will never forget or forgive this hypocritical act.” Three days later Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his intention of “suspending diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi leadership or pulling back our ambassador.”

Although the Palestinian cause was central to the Turkish government’s rhetoric, Ankara’s reaction to the UAE has more to do with Erdogan’s deepening rivalry with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), who has emerged as the leader of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood camp in the region. A columnist in Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah claimed that Abu Dhabi’s “decision to normalize relations with Israel is not directed at Iran” but stems from the UAE’s desire “to build a concrete axis against Turkey and Qatar.”

Indeed, Erdogan, who acts as the leading patron of the Muslim Brotherhood globally, sees MBZ as the key culprit for the Brotherhood’s reversal of fortunes across the Arab world. Turkey’s Islamists believe that an MBZ-led alliance in the Gulf has been behind all calamities befalling Turkey from the failed coup attempt in 2016 and the devaluation of the Turkish currency to the armed insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Analysts have often pointed a finger to political Islam as a culprit for the lack of relations between Israel and majority Muslim states. Ironically, the respective Islamist ambitions of majority-Sunni Turkey and majority-Shiite Iran, and their growing ability to act in unison to simultaneously challenge the U.S.-led world order, traditional Arab monarchies, and Israel, has complicated that analysis.

It is true that the promise of win-win relations in business, technology, intelligence, and security continues to pull Israel and Arab states towards one another. But the push factor from Islamists in Ankara and Tehran appear to have been the magic touch with the UAE — and possibly others waiting to happen.






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