When President Donald Trump presided over the signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain last week on the South Lawn of the White House, his critics cast the event as a real-life enactment of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in which Trump played a minimal role in a meaningless accord involving two tiny Arab nations that had never made war on the Jewish state. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is indeed an apt analogy, but it was Trump’s critics—not the president—who were shown to be naked.
The Abraham Accords are the most significant development in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the last 25 years. Not only have the Palestinians lost their veto over normalization between Israel and other Arab states, but the entire “Resistance Alliance,” led by Iran, has revealed itself as incapable of placing obstacles in the way of Israel’s integration into the Arab state system. True, the UAE and Bahrain are small powers, but behind them looms Saudi Arabia, which is by far the most influential Arab state. Without Riyadh’s tacit support, the celebration on the White House lawn would never have materialized. If Trump wins the election in November, there is a good chance that Riyadh will normalize relations with Israel—to say nothing of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Morocco, and Sudan, who are also waiting in the wings.
To be sure, the Palestinian seat at the next White House party will likely remain empty, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will simmer away for many years to come. But that is true of many dozens of sectarian and nationalistic conflicts around the world, including those in Spain, Belgium, Italy, and Ukraine—to confine the list only to Europe. No one in the world has a plausible solution to the Palestinian question, and the best diplomatic minds have devoted more time and effort on it than any other question on the planet for reasons that are now beginning to recede into history.
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