Suspension, not cancellation

Israel only agreed to suspend the extension of sovereignty, not cancel it.

Ted Belman , | updated: 12:31 PM

Yousef Al Otaiba with Mike Pompeo
Yousef Al Otaiba with Mike Pompeo

On Friday, YNET published an Op-ed by UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba, in which he wrote,

"Perhaps the most immediate and significant outcome of today’s announcement is Israel’s decision to accept a negotiated outcome, reject unilateral action and suspend its annexation plans for Palestinian territory.

"This creates time and space, fresh dynamics and energy, for the peace process. It maintains the viability of a two-state solution as endorsed by the Arab League and international community. It bolsters Jordan’s stability and reaffirms its importance in future initiatives.

"In this spirit, the UAE will remain an ardent and consistent supporter of the Palestinian people – for their dignity, their rights and their own sovereign state. They must share in the benefits of normalization," adding that they hadclosed the gate on annexation and created new dynamics in the peace process.”

His use of the word "suspend" implies suspension for time being rather than forever. If it was forever, he would have said so. The same applies to his remark that UAE had “closed the gate”. Gates can always be opened.

In another YNET article, Kristin Smith Diwan, a scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington was quoted as saying, "that the agreement also leaves the UAE vulnerable to whatever decisions Israel makes in the future." implying that Israel was free to end the suspension.

On a private conference call with the White House, Ambassador David Friedman said, this deal “does not in any way require Israel to cancel the idea of Israeli sovereignty (over parts of Judea and Samaria, aka 'West Bank', and the Jordan Valley) but to suspend it. It is very difficult to go down these two roads at once. We prioritize peace above everything else. It is a suspension, not a cancellation of the sovereignty issue. “ What could be more explicit than that.

Mahmoud Abbas said after calling the agreement "nonsense", “They (the UAE) have turned their backs on everything: the rights of the Palestinian people, the Palestinian state, the two-state solution, and the holy city of Jerusalem,” and accused the UAE of trying to justify the deal by arguing it helped stop Israeli "annexations" in the 'West Bank,' a move which the United States says it will not consent to for “some time” in order to focus on implementing the agreement.

Obviously he is not at all comforted by UAE's assertions that "annexation" has been suspended.

PM Netanyahu said "This was an American demand to suspend the "annexation" of lands in the 'West Bank' for the time being, and we agreed,"

I support both Pres Trump and PM Netanyahu. Here's why.

The UAE deal will be signed on the White House lawn shortly after the Republican National Convention. It will certainly help Trump's reelection bid. But more important is the avoidance of the brouhaha that would follow a unilateral application of sovereignty by Israel of the Jordan Valley and the bulk of the "settlements." As we know, the UN, the EU counties and most, if not all the rest, of the Arab countries are vehemently and adamantly against it.

Such a brouhaha would be used by the Democrats to attack Trump's foreign policy. Of course he would prefer to avoid giving the Democrats such ammunition.

Even if Trump fails in his reelection bid, Israel would still be able to extend sovereignty to the 30% with Trump's blessing or at least acceptance prior to Biden's inauguration.

Many argue that the UAE deal is no big deal because Arabs can't be trusted to abide by the terms of such agreements. After all, the PLO, Jordan and Egypt have all violated their commitments as set out in their respective Agreements.

Even so, I maintain that the UAE deal is a big deal, in fact a huge deal.

First and foremost, it has violated the long standing Arab League commitment made in the Khartoum Conference in 1967 to "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it" and commonly referred to as "the three noes".

Secondly, it is widely anticipated that many countries will follow suit, perhaps Sudan, Bahrain and even Saudi Arabia.

Osama Al Sharif, a veteran journalist and political commentator based in Amman ,writes in Al-Monitor,

“With more Arab countries expected to follow the UAE’s example before the November US elections, Jordan’s longstanding political approach to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will become a minority position. But there are no signs that Amman is changing course.” The same for Abbas.

Third, I also anticipate that many African countries which severed diplomatic ties with Israel during the Arab oil embargo and have not yet restored them, will proceed to do so.

All this diplomatic movement will surely undermine the EU opposition to Israel's extension of sovereignty and the UN's repeated anti-Israel resolutions. The tide is turning. With each and every embrace of Israel by additional countries, Israel's pariah status will be further undermined and diminished.

Remember, it is a suspension, not a cancellation.

Ted Belman is a retired attorney and the editor of Israpundit. In 2009 he made aliya and is
now living in Jerusalem.