Within the span of only a month, the United States has brokered peace between Israel and two Arab countries—first the United Arab Emirates, then Bahrain. Both deals are revolutionary in scop. By normalizing ties and focusing on business, trade, and travel, these “warm peace” agreements go beyond the often tenuous “cold peace” that Egypt and Jordan made with the Jewish state decades ago. Not only do the UAE and Bahrain deals set the stage for a sea change in Arab-Israeli relations, but they might even present a novel opportunity to finally solve the most intractable issue between the two sides: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is likely that Saudi Arabia, other GCC countries and some Muslim countries will follow UAE’s lead, as the roadmap of the Trump Peace Plan unfolds. Among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries, Oman and Qatar have also had informal relations with Israel for quite some time. Israel-Qatar trade ties began in 1996 and trade offices continued to function till 2009 when these offices were closed owing to Qatar’s support to the Hamas government in Gaza and the second Palestinian Intifada (Uprising).
Pakistan’s dilemma will increase further as its ties with its patron, Saudi Arabia, is fraying at the edges. Both Saudi Arabia and UAE have ignored Pakistan’s request to convene meetings of the OIC to discuss the Kashmir issue.
Pakistan has shifted closer to Iran and Turkey, as strategic rivalry between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey has led to geopolitical re-alignments. Saudi Arabia and UAE are far more concerned about Iran’s role in the region and have gravitated towards their ally US. This opportunity has been the window utilized by US to bring in its ally Israel into the equation, with the ultimate aim of putting more pressure on Iran. With India’s growing ties to the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE, and ties with Iran and Turkey floundering over the Kashmir issue, the Agreement will buttress Delhi’s ties with the region.