Normalization in diplomatic parlance means the process of creating normal diplomatic relations between countries. This generally means moving from a standard where the assumed relationship is one of belligerence to one in which the assumption is peaceful, often mutually beneficial, interaction.
I have spoken and written extensively over the past decade about how misguided American outreach to Turkey and attempts to work with Iran in relation to the JCPOA made it essential for the Saudis, the UAE, and Bahrain to work with Israel. In fact, you could add not only Egypt to that group, but Sudan as well. Inconsistent American foreign policy in regard to Iran, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen has strengthened that need.
While the military-strategic side of the normalization calculus has clearly shifted in favor for these Arab nations, the technological and economic side has shifted even further in that direction with Israel assuming the role of not only regional technological powerhouse, but of being an international one. If you care about technological development in 2020, you want to be on Israel’s side.
On the other hand, the alternatives have proven not only unreliable, but dangerous. The countries in the region in which Iran or Turkey have significant influence are all aflame and/or in some state of financial disaster: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Libya… Meanwhile, UAE and Israel can work together on a host of issues. Tourism alone will be big and, in fact, if the Palestinians can get their act together, Emirati tourism to the West Bank could bring enormous benefits.
The real problem faced by the Palestinian Authority leadership here is that the benefits of this new relationship could so positively benefit the economy of the West Bank as to nullify any possible opposition to growing the relationship, much less any real willingness to oppose it. Those who are truly opposing this agreement are fairly radical.
We now have another new barometer to judge sanity in relation to Middle East politics. People who supported the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization agreement represent a relatively sane political center ranging across about 80-90% of the political spectrum and including the majority of supporters and opponents of the administrations in the United States and Israel.
Opponents of the deal itself include the leaders of Turkey and Iran, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and PA President Abbas, and the settler movement leadership in Israel, which is threatening to dismantle the coalition, because of an indefinite suspension in the policy of annexation.
If you’re wondering, the Meretz party in Israel, representing the far left of the political spectrum in Israel was supportive of the deal, seeing it as returning to a path toward a two state resolution and agreeing with its past argument that Israel would find willing Arab partners, if it did so.
Consider just how radical someone would be to oppose a formal peace agreement between Israel and Arab nations in favor of forcing them to maintain a state of belligerence indefinitely in order to help Palestinian negotiations by harming Israelis and most Arabs.
This agreement is not only exciting in the possibilities for the future that it brings for Israel and the UAE, but in the expectation that it is but the first such agreement of several to come.
Yesterday, Emeratis were tweeting pictures of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with excitement about visiting. Israelis are looking forward to flying Emirates Air from Tel Aviv to Dubai.
We live in a changing world.