Dove of Peace in the Middle East

Looking at pigeons on the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel. © Photo: Dr. Bernd Kregel

Vienna, Austria (Weltexpress). Some Israelis are already dreaming of a vacation in Dubai, at the dizzying height of a luxury hotel room in the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world at 828 meters, dreaming of the famous shopping malls, of inexpensive beach holidays, of the famous indoor ski slope in powder snow, when the desert heat is searing outside at 45 degrees. The facade of the city hall of Tel Aviv shines in the national colours of the Emirates – which to this day have denied entry to Israeli passport holders. Perhaps soon planes from the Israeli company El Al will land in Dubai, Emirates will fly to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Where did the sudden euphoria come from? A week ago, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the “strong man” of the Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan – agreed by telephone to establish full diplomatic relations. A sensational development engineered by President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner – among others.

A diplomatic breakthrough: a masterpiece. The big winners are: Trump, whose re-election is on a knife-edge and who can now grandstand as a peacemaker in the Middle East. And Netanyahu, who had to answer to court for corruption allegations in January – a welcome distraction in Israel, which has had to fight so many wars in its permanent struggle for survival and whose greeting is still “shalom”, peace. An absolutely brilliant deal: the players only have to win. With his advance, the Sheikh himself prevented the annexation of the occupied West Bank (announced by Netanyahu as an election promise). And in return, the Israeli prime minister renounces an annexation, the actual implementation of which he never even dreamt of – brilliant. Winners only? The losers are, again, the Palestinians. Once again it’s been shown that although they are used extensively by the Arabs as a propaganda tool for decades now the same Arabs drop the Palestinians like hot potatoes when their own interests come first. The only ones who are still shouting “treason” are the Iranians and the Turks – and the Palestinians could happily do without such allies.

Is it a historic new beginning in the Middle East? Two former war opponents of Israel, Egypt and later also Jordan, have long made peace with the Jewish state – a cold peace, because many Egyptians and the Palestinian population of Jordan still view Israel with feelings of hatred – but technical cooperation with neighbouring countries is flourishing. So it is between the Emirates and Israel – without formal peace. Jewish business people in Dubai have long held their holiday worship services behind closed doors. There has been cooperation and business between Israel and the Gulf States for a long time – not least in the strategic area, because the common enemy is Iran. The Emirates have gigantic military budgets and they are keen on the highly developed Israeli weapons technology, and recently they have also been working closely together in the medical field, in the fight against Covid-19. This new, third peace treaty between the Gulf States and Israel is ultimately not at all – it’s just a “normalization” of the relationship. Because there was never really a war, at most perhaps lip service to the “common Arab front” against the “Zionist opponent”. One swallow does not make a summer, goes the old saying. A dove of peace, one might add, not peace by itself.

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