Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to leave late on Sunday for the United States, where he is slated to sign historic normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain on Tuesday.
The UAE and Bahrain will become the third and fourth Arab country to ink a peace agreement with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
“This is a trend that appears to continue and puts the Palestinians in a very difficult position,” said Nimrod Goren, head of the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. “If Saudi Arabia advances toward peace with Israel, then we will know that we are heading for a major change.”
“This was a way to portray that the normalization with Israel was not really going against the Palestinians but actually preventing something that would have been decimation for them,” noted Joshua Teitelbaum, a professor in Department of Middle Eastern Studies of Bar-Ilan University.
In a statement, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said the agreement with Israel will “promote security and stability in the region, ensure the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and achieve sustainable peace.”
Still, the announced peace agreements are a major setback for the Palestinians who have always relied on Arab support in confronting the Israelis, especially since the last round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations broke down in 2014.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has alluded to the possibility that other countries may soon announce peace agreements with Israel, probably at the time of Tuesday’s signing ceremony in Washington.
“For the Gulf countries, they want to benefit from Israel being at the forefront of hi-tech … They have to diversify their economic base and Israel can help them,” said Teitelbaum.
“Relations with the Gulf states are not a replacement for peace with Palestinians, but they can be used to promote the process,” Goren noted.