Let the two-state solution be the gold standard

If the UAE does not understand the peril of the peace process, especially how brittle it can be, it should not unilaterally recognise Israel.

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Published by Malay Mail, Malaysiakini, The Star & New Straits Times, image from The New Arab.

When the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recognised Israel as a full state, the most basic condition attached to the process was that Israel cease and desist from any settlement activities in the West Bank.

But there was no effort to specify when, merely aspiration, the UAE would like to see that on the ground. But there are more then 650,000 settlers in Israel, staying in the Occupied Land of Palestine wrested from King Hussein of Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

If the settlers had already considered this occupied land as their home, which is against the Geneva Convention, the action of the UAE has amounted to rewarding the action of the Likud government, especially the coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now.

The fact is that since the Madrid Dialogue in 1990, as approved by the late President George Bush I, with the consent of Prime Minister Izhak Shamir, a two-state solution has always been in the offing.

To the degree the Spanish process could not make any head ways, Professor Herbert Kelman at Harvard University helped it along. Kelman invited the scholars and government officials of both sides to speak in their private albeit semi-official capacity, what is otherwise known as a Track 2 Dialogue, a field explored in great detail by Phar Kim Beng, a former Harvard Teaching Fellow in 1998-2001.

When the confidence was gained by both sides, the Norwegian government took over to sponsor the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks leading to the 1994 Oslo Peace Accord signed between the late Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin and Chairman Yasser Arafat who was representing the People’s Liberation Organization (PLO).

But since then, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has won five elections in Israel, has never taken this Oslo Accord seriously. 

If the UAE does not understand the peril of the peace process, especially how brittle it can be, it should not unilaterally recognise Israel. There dire strategic implications are three.

First, the ultra conservative elements in Iran has considered UAE a “legitimate target”; potentially to be attacked. There is not healthy for the regional dynamics.

Secondly, with Turkey against the plan to, it will lobby the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to challenge the leadership of the United States and Israel to hamper any progress. This will create a split in Nato at a point when Nato is already very weak due to the absence of American leadership.

Finally, if UAE works with US and Israel, the much sought after Muslim unity will fray, not that it hasn’t, because the Muslim world will begin to question the legitimacy of the global order. A two-state solution is the only gold standard that can satisfy the Palestinians, and all those who have had the misfortune to witness their displacement.

Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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