“At its core, then, the deal looks like a trade where the US and Israel give Sudan financial support in exchange for diplomatic normalization.”
“a joint US-Israeli delegation traveled to Sudan for talks with the government. Two days later, Trump removed the Arab-led North African nation from America’s state sponsors of terrorism list. It’s a move he promised to make once the country paid $335 million to American victims of terror for the country’s harboring of Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.
The UAE also played a role in the negotiations, as Sudan asked the country — and the US — for billions in economic aid as part of signing this deal. That makes sense, as the country is desperately in need of cash. Whether the US and UAE start funneling money into Sudan remains to be seen.
A political earthquake in Sudan also made the announcement possible. A protest movement kicked Sudan’s Islamist leaders out of power last year, ushering in a new military-led government that wants to end its global pariah status. Making amends with the US and saying it is no longer hostile to Israel is one way to do just that.”
“more broadly, regional politics in the greater Middle East have changed dramatically in recent years.
Whereas the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once served as a major axis around which Middle East and Arab-government politics rotated, with many countries aligned with the Palestinians against Israel, that’s now changed. What animates the foreign policies of many Middle Eastern countries these days is the Arab-Israel standoff with Iran — which some have dubbed a “cold war.”
With less need to bash Israel and back Palestine, Sudan had more freedom to strike the deal.”
“The Abraham Accords, signed September 15, formally normalized Israel’s relationship with both Bahrain and United Arab Emirates. While geopolitical concerns have dominated both the substance of the accords and media coverage of the deal, the signatories also pledged a “common interest in establishing and developing mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes,” which may include “joint programs, projects, and activities.
Both Israel and the United Arab Emirates have thriving space programs. The Israeli Space Agency, founded in 1982, has launched a number of satellites—most notably, in 2019, the Beresheet Lander to the moon. Co-designed and built by the Israeli companies SpaceIL and Israeli Aerospace Industries, Beresheet was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and made it all the way to the Moon for less than $100 million dollars.
Unfortunately, the Beresheet lander crashed into the lunar surface due to a mechanical error. Still, the fact that the Israeli Space Agency was able to get that close is significant. The only other nations who have been able to get that close to the lunar surface are the Americans, the Chinese, and the Russians.
The Emirati space program is significant too. Currently rocketing its way from Earth to Mars is the Al-Amal (Arabic for “Hope”) satellite, which launched in July. It is expected to arrive in February, when it will begin to investigate Martian weather patterns.
It is too soon to know how the accord will affect the two space programs. But on August 17, before the Abraham Accords were signed, Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Izhar Shay said that cooperation was “imminent” and that “[t]he infrastructure is there for the commercial engagements for the sharing of know-how and mutual efforts.””
“Bahrain’s leadership surely considered many reasons before joining in on the US-led effort to improve Israel’s ties with its Arab neighbors, but two key ones stick out.
First, regional politics in the Middle East have changed dramatically in recent years.
Whereas the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once served as a major axis around which Middle East politics rotated, with nearly every country in the region, from Iran to Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, aligned with the Palestinians against Israel, that’s now changed. What animates the foreign policies of Middle Eastern countries these days is the Arab-Israel standoff with Iran — which some have dubbed a “cold war.”
As Iran has increased its efforts to establish itself as the regional hegemon, including by developing a robust nuclear program (but, so far at least, not an actual nuclear weapon), rival Gulf countries have found their security interests far more closely aligned with Israel.”
“Second, Bahrain and the US have a close relationship, especially during the Trump administration. The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in the small kingdom, and so they each have military and economic reasons to remain friendly.
But Jared Kushner, Trump’s leading Middle East peace negotiator, has also turned Bahrain into a central player in his efforts. In June 2019, Kushner hosted his “Peace to Prosperity” workshop — meant to get ideas ahead of unveiling his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan — in Bahrain. When looking for a country to follow the UAE in normalizing relations with Israel, it was likely he and his team would turn to Bahrain.
The question now is if more countries — like Oman and Sudan — will follow suit. If so, it may prove the Trump administration’s Middle East strategy has had some success, and prove dire for Palestinian hopes of having any real power in future negotiations with Jerusalem.”
“First, it means Israel won’t — at least for now — annex parts of the West Bank, a move that would have all but shut the door on a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli-occupied West Bank is home to nearly 3 million Palestinians as well some 500,000 Jewish settlers, and would form a critical part of any future independent state of Palestine.”
“Second, this makes life a bit easier for Israel. The last peace deal it struck with an Arab country was with Jordan in 1994 (it signed one with Egypt in 1979). Now Israel can claim it has more friends in the region, possibly reducing the pressure on it regarding its relations with Palestinians.
Granted, both nations had quietly been working together in myriad areas, namely technology, for several years. But now, the countries can openly work together in key areas, mostly pressingly on a cure for the coronavirus.”
“This agreement may help the UAE do business with Israel, which in turn should help the Arab nation’s economy. Put together, this deal is mostly a win-win for the UAE: It helps itself, and reduces the risk of a calamity happening in the region.”
“Many caveats still apply, though. Among other possibilities, Israel and the UAE could hit many snags as they work on how, exactly, to normalize relations.”
“In April 2018, Ahmed Abu Hussein was shot in the abdomen while covering Gaza border protests, in which demonstrators demanded the right to return to their ancestral homes in Israel. Hussein died from his wounds two weeks later.
A day later, Yaser Murtaja was fatally shot in the abdomen by Israeli snipers while covering the same protest. He, like Tal’at, was wearing a vest marked clearly marked with “PRESS.” The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in Gaza said five more Palestinian journalists covering the event were wounded.
In November 2019, Muath Amarneh was blinded in one eye after Israeli Border Police opened fire to disperse protesters at a demonstration near the West Bank city of Hebron. Other journalists at the scene said Amarneh was hit by a bullet that ricocheted off a demonstrator. Again, Amarneh wore a clearly marked “PRESS” vest.
Two months later, Israeli troops fractured Abdul Mohsen Shalaldeh’s skull while he reported on demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s Israel-Palestine peace plan. He feels he was targeted “as a clear message to journalists that they had to leave the field,” he told AlAraby.
Clearly, there is a sustained pattern. But if Tal’at’s case is any indication, there is little hope for change or recourse.”
“The West Bank’s Palestinian residents, who live under the grinding realities of occupation, are not Israeli citizens and don’t have a voice in the policies that profoundly shape their lives. The Israeli settlers, many of whom moved to the West Bank with the explicit ideological purpose of seizing control of Palestinian land, do.
Israel is a democratic country within its internationally recognized borders, but it maintains a military occupation of land on which millions of people live while denying those people the right to vote. Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this inherent instability has started to tip toward outright authoritarianism throughout the territory under Israeli control. In a 2019 poll conducted by the nonpartisan Israeli Democracy Institute, a majority of Israelis (54 percent) said their democracy was “in grave danger.”
Since Netanyahu took office in 2009, the nationalist right has mounted an assault on liberal institutions and eroded democracy in Israel. The Israeli parliament has passed a bill formally defining Israel as a state for its Jewish citizens, implicitly slotting the sizable minority of Arab Muslim Israeli citizens into a form of second-class citizenship.”
“Netanyahu allegedly struck a deal with a major newspaper to exchange political favors for favorable coverage.
When this scandal was exposed, Netanyahu was indicted on bribery charges; his response has been to attack the media that reported on the scandal, demonize the prosecutors who brought the case, and attempt to pass a law immunizing himself from prosecution while in office.
Israel is heading down a path already trod by countries like Turkey, Hungary, and Venezuela: former democracies whose elected leaders have, gradually and through mostly legal processes, twisted the state’s institutions to the point where the public no longer has a meaningful choice in who rules them. The signs are subtle, but I found them striking during my trip last fall”
“Some of the causes of this anti-democratic drift are uniquely Israeli. No advanced democracy maintains anything like the occupation of the West Bank. The foundational Zionist vision, a state that’s both meaningfully “Jewish” and “democratic,” leads to a constant high-wire act in a country whose citizens are around 25 percent non-Jewish.”
““bad civil society.” These relatively new organizations — the big ones were founded in the 2000s — use the tools of a free society, like court filings and free speech, to attack and shut down people and groups that disagree with them. “These [NGOs] view differences in perceptions of society and the state as being sufficient justification for silencing or delegitimizing others,” as Jamal puts it.
Such “bad civil society” groups are well-funded allies of the right-wing parties in power; they sometimes even share personnel. One prominent far-right MK, Bezalel Smotrich, is a co-founder of the pro-settlement group Regavim. They perform tasks that official members of government can’t or won’t, helping to hollow out Israeli civil society while claiming to be part of it.”
“About 500,000 Israelis live in the settlements, of which there are about 130 scattered around the West Bank. Roughly 75 percent of settlers live on or near the West Bank border with Israel. Some of the settlements are vast communities that house tens of thousands of people and look like suburban developments. Some look like hand-built shanty outposts.
Settlements create what Israelis and Palestinians call “new facts on the ground.” Palestinian communities are split apart and their connection to the land weakened, while Jewish communities put down roots in territory meant for Palestinians.
In effect, it shrinks the area of land left available for any future Palestinian state to exist on and chops it up into pieces, destroying its potential viability as a real, contiguous state. For some settlers, this is the point: They want the West Bank fully incorporated as Israeli territory and are trying to make that happen.”
“Instead of coming up with a plan that would see those settlers relocated or finding some other solution, Kushner’s plan just takes the huge chunk of land where most of the settlements are located and gives it to Israel. In return, Palestinians get some pockets of land far away in the desert on the border with Egypt and not much else.”
“There’s a lot to this document, but there are four major elements of the new political proposal in particular you need to know about: 1) Israel keeps the vast majority of Jerusalem as its sovereign capital; 2) Palestinians get no right of return; 3) it redraws borders mainly between Israel and the West Bank; and 4) doesn’t allow for Palestine to create a fighting force to defend itself.”