News Analysis: Mutual interests, geopolitical changes behind Israel's normalization deals with UAE, Bahrain: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-16 04:23:19|Editor: huaxia

by Keren Setton

JERUSALEM, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Israel signed agreements to normalize diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain at the White House on Tuesday.

Experts believe that behind the agreements there are geopolitical changes influenced by Iran's role in the region, as Bahrain and the UAE view Tehran as a threat and Israel regards the Iranian regime as its arch-enemy.

"The UAE and Bahrain lost the U.S. as a reliable security patron and they are in an increased threat environment," said Jonathan Rynhold, a professor with the Political Studies Department at Bar Ilan University, "From their perspective, Israel can be relied on as strong, it has shown it is willing to use force and doesn't pose a threat to them."

Although Israel has voiced its opposition to selling American F-35 stealth fighter to the UAE, it appears that the path has been paved for the sale to go through, analysts said.

"The UAE was also encouraged to move forward (with the accords) as it greatly increased the prospects of the U.S. selling to it the F-35 planes," Rynhold added, "Israel, the UAE and Bahrain have been helping each other strategically vis-a-vis Iran for a decade, in terms of intelligence on Iranian weapons movements and other matters."

"Israel will now have allies in close proximity to Iran which could be used for intelligence gathering," said Ehud Eiran, a visiting scholar of the Department of Political Science in Stanford University, "Also, if Israel and the Gulf countries want to contain Iran in the international arena, this will be facilitated in an easier manner."

"For Israel, these agreements achieve a strategic goal of recognition in the Arab world," said Eiran, "This is highlighted by the fact that it was achieved without the Palestinians."

The accords mark a major change from the traditional view held for decades that Israel must first solve the conflict with the Palestinians and only then can agreements be reached with its Arabs neighbors.

"I call on the Palestinian leadership to come to terms with reality, to show responsibility and leadership as revealed by the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and to return to the negotiating table," said Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on his Twitter account.

To facilitate the signing, Netanyahu agreed to freeze his contentious plan to annex territories in the West Bank. But the plan was controversial, it was difficult to see how the Israeli premier would have gone forward with it regardless of the normalization agreements.

"Israel will never make concessions on core issues to establish relations with Gulf States, if it wanted to that it would have done so already. The core issues remain and they are not going to change," said Rynhold. Enditem