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Poli Savvy: “And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to…”

by Elyette Levy September 22, 2020
Poli Savvy: “And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to…”

Everything you need to know about the historic Abraham Accords

Number one was for North Korea. Number two was for Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Number three was for Kosovo. In the past few days, the three contentious nominations of Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize have been the talk of the town.

Though the US President is by no means guaranteed the prestigious tribute — among hundreds of other nominees, it’s highly unlikely that he will be chosen — this endorsement flared up the controversy leading up to the diplomatic Israel-UAE-Bahrain deal, which was officially signed at the White House on Sept. 15.

Here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on in recent months

Because of past treaties, Israel has retained military control over most of the West Bank. Conveniently labeled areas A, B, and C, three zones have been delineated as the result of decades of war and diplomatic talks. Still, only about 18 per cent of the territory remains entirely in the hands of Palestinian authorities to this day.

In recent years, the Israeli government has been subsidizing the establishment of Jewish communities in the West Bank — the infamous settlements — despite not owning the territory. This has been decried by, well, everyone, for many years, because it blatantly violates international law.

But in 2019, the Trump administration announced it would no longer call the settlements illegal, a major setback for Palestinians, whose fragile sovereignty depends on international recognition.

This isn’t so surprising, though, considering Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s friendly relationship, and also as the upshot of Obama’s 2016 agreement to give Israel $38 billion in military aid in the next 10 years.

And then Netanyahu announced he was planning on launching a project to annex parts of the West Bank as soon as July 1, threatening the enactment of the coveted two-state solution.

So … what’s the deal?

Announced in mid-August, the Abraham Accords called for a complete normalization of the diplomatic relationship between Israel and the UAE, with Bahrain joining in soon after.

This means economic and military alliances, embassies in each country, and most importantly, formal acknowledgement of Israel’s sovereignty — something only two other Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, have carried out thus far. In exchange, the Jewish state must suspend its inchoate annexation plan.

In essence, the treaty formalizes Israel’s ties with its neighbours, as the UAE and Bahrain are the first Persian Gulf countries to agree to amicable relations. To some, this was received positively — as long as Israel holds its end of the deal, all three countries will profit economically and effectively avoid conflict.

For others, including many Palestinians and Bahrainis, it means betrayal; as more Arab states normalize their ties with Israel, they are forfeiting their fraternal support for the Palestinian cause in favour of financial gain.

Since Netanyahu has shown no desire to bring an end to his settlement projects or to his plan for future annexation, many are feeling helpless in a decades-long fight against Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Annexation or not, the plight of those living in the West Bank will remain unresolved. Experts haven’t been wrong in calling this accord historical, but only time will tell if it lives up to the title of peace deal — and if it would even entitle Trump a seat at the Nobel Peace Prize winners’ table.

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