Neil Partrick on the UAE’s normalisation deal with Israel

Dr. Neil Partrick, Senior Fellow at the Next Century Foundation, has written about the UAE’s normalisation with Israel, and what this may mean for outside interests vested in Jerusalem’s famous Islamic sites. His perspective is that the UAE had strategic calculations in mind when they made the deal. It wanted to be an example for other Arab states who are unwilling to normalise their relations with Israel because of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and thereby to dampen Turkey’s domineering interests in Jerusalem, as they strive to take center stage as leader of the Sunni Muslim world.

By contrast to the ‘sound of silence’ that has ensued from many Arab states following the normalisation deal, Palestinians have been vocal about the UAE’s stance particularly in relation to Jerusalem, all the more so after a UAE delegation visited Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of an Israeli guard. After co-signing the ‘joint agreement’ with Israel and the USA, the UAE paid no attention to the attitude of the local Islamic authorities in the form of the Awqaf that operates in Jerusalem under the leadership of the Mufti. Neil Partrick argues that this move by the UAE may be motivated by the desire to compete with Turkey’s presence in Haram Al-Shareef, regardless of how it undermines key Palestinian and Jordanian interests (Haram Al-Shareef meaning the “Noble Sanctuary” is the Arabic name for the sacred shrine known as the Dome of the Rock next to which the Al-Aqsa Mosque is built – the complex being under Jordan’s custodianship).  

At this year’s Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate organised by Emirates Policy Center last month, there was no word spoken about the implications of the normalisation deal for Jerusalem, but rather, the emphasis was on Turkey’s role in the region. Ömer Taşpınar argued that Turkey had taken on the role of defending the Palestinians that Arab states are no longer willing to. He added that this resurgence of Turkey’s involvement in the Palestinian issue is due to its declining economy and loss of primacy in Europe, a stance that Taşpınar envisages will outlast Turkey’s President Erdogan. Consequences of the deal for Iran were elaborated on by Alex Vatanka at the conference, who views it as a partial loss for Iran’s interests. However he perceived the possibility that the UAE would sanction any significant Israeli action against Iran from Emirati soil as negligible.

To read Dr. Partrick’s commentary in full, please click here: https://neilpartrick.com/blog/the-uae-s-normalisation-with-israeli-sovereignty-over-jerusalem

Picture shows Palestinians demonstrating in Ramallah against the UAE’s ‘normalisation’ with Israel, © Anadolu Agency, 2020

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