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Barak Ravid (photo from Twitter)

Prominent Israeli Journalist at JNF Canada Event Says Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Saved The Two State Solution at least for now

by Rhonda Spivak, April 1, 2022


Barack Ravid, a prominent Israeli journalist says that  behind the scenes the Crown  Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates played an absolutely pivotal role in securing the Abraham Accords.


As Ravid  explained, Bin Zayed believed peace with Israel would help him in his quest  to modernize his nation. At the time, Israel's then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was threatening to annex the Jordan valley, a sizeable  chunk of the West Bank into Israel. According to Ravid, bin Zayed became " the most vocal opponent of annexation.” Bin Zayed told the U.S. that if Netanyahu dropped the annexation proposal  he would sign a peace deal with Israel. The annexation initiative was a headache for the U.S. according to  Ravid, and bin Zayed’s offer solved this problem while offering a political breakthrough.


Ravid said he thinks that the Abraham Accords "saved the two-state solution, at least for now,” albeit the Palestinians won't admit that. “Some people think it’s gone already, but if you think the two-state solution is still alive, the reason it’s still alive is that the UAE normalized relations with Israel and stopped Netanyahu from annexing the West Bank."


Ravid , who is a former Ha’aretz diplomatic correspondent, spoke on zoom on Feb. 20 in a talk sponsored by the Jewish National Fund of Canada. Ravid , who now reports for Axios from Israel, spoke about his new book, Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East. 



Ravid  is  of the view that the Abraham Accords and the normalization between Israel and Arab states would not have occurred under any  president other than Donald Trump. According to Ravid,  it was Trump’s policies in the Middle East that closed “the trust gap” between the U.S and Israel, which had existed under Obama. "Trump’s policies in the region, mainly on Iran, closed down the gap and brought Israel and the Arab countries closer together,” Ravid stated.


Ravid noted that Trump’s decision to appoint his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as his envoy for  peace in the Middle East  proved to be a key factor in reaching the Accords. When Ravid conducted interviews with Israelis and Arabs for his book, he discovered that both sides viewed Kushner’s appointment as proof of how important  this issue was for Trump . Both sides believed that, when they spoke to Kushner, they were speaking to the president.

The Abraham Accords  came together, in Ravid’s view because Trump knew how to make deals. He made sure that in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel, each party to the accords got something tangible  that they wanted, without which they would not necessarily have entered into the deal.


“For the United Arab Emirates, it was…  the sales of the F-35 fighter jets,” Ravid said. “For Bahrain, it was an upgraded trade deal [with the United States]. For Sudan, it was removing them from the [U.S.] state department’s terrorism list. For Morocco, it was the U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara…”


Ravid  maintains  that Binyamin Netanyahu was also  instrumental in the success of the accords. Diplomats had  long assumed that  peace between Israel and Arab states would come only after  the Palestinian issue was resolved.  Netanyahu, however,  did not believe this and behind the scenes  he methodically  began building relations in the region.


“It’s hard to go from zero to 100 in one step,”Ravid explained.” You need to get to a situation where you narrow this gap and Netanyahu managed to take Israel and the Arab world from zero to, let’s say, 70. So, when the decision for the Abraham Accords came, the Arab countries didn’t have to go zero to 100, they needed to go 70 to 100.”


Ravid examined the issue of  a normalization agreement between Israel and  Saudi Arabia. He noted that U.S. President Biden sent his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, to Saudi Arabia and  he was given a list of demands from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. The demands were all directed towards the United States, not Israel, and included a demand to invite the Saudi monarch  to the White House.  The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency however, concluded that bin Salman, ordered the murder  of  Washington Post commentator and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2017, and since then the Saudi monarch has been an international pariah.


Biden will have to take a very difficult decision in order to move ahead with the Abraham Accords, Ravid pointed out, noting that it would be a delicate situation to invite the Saudi ruler to the White House given according to the C.I.A. he ordered the murder of Khashoggi, and given that the U.S. would not want to be seen as rewarding him in any way for this.


But, if Biden does  engage with Saudia Arabia over their demands, peace between Saudia Arabia and Israel would in all likelihood occur, according to Ravid. He said if Saudi Arabia made peace, so would  Indonesia, Kuwait , Oman and  Muslim countries in Africa join as well as  Pakistan.


"It’s literally the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict – while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue, obviously,” Ravid concluded.


Cynthia Ramsey editor of the Vancouver Jewish Independent interviewed Ravid. Lance Davis, chief executive officer of JNF Canada thanked Ravid.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.