Former Israeli ambassador to U.S. says UAE deal has 'upended' how peace seen in Mideast
Former Ambassador Michael Oren shares his thoughts on the current state of play in Israel and the surrounding region following the historic U.S.-brokered peace deal with the United Arab Emirates
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to America, is calling the newly minted UAE-Israel peace deal a “total game changer.”
The deal not only affords opportunity for significant innovation and economic expansion, it also has completely “upended 30, 50, even 70 years of assumptions about the Arab-Israeli conflict and how you end it,” Oren said in an interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast Tuesday.
Citing examples that include the Sinai Dessert, the Jordan Valley, and the Golan Heights, Oren said in the past Israel was always required to “pay for peace with land.” Though “fortunately,” he said, Israel never agreed to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with neighboring Syria.
In particular, Oren thinks the Palestinians will be forced to rethink their negotiating posture. According to the former ambassador, past negotiations have taught Palestinian leadership that walking away from the negotiation is not just acceptable, but can lead to a better package.
However, with the Emiratis, there was no such negotiation. “It is a wedding of the most innovative state in the world, with one of the richest states in the world,” Oren said of the deal. Entities in both lands are hopeful that the newly normalized relationship will bring about boundless economic development, and perhaps most significantly, the expansion of revolutionary technologies that will be implemented the world over.
Israel, Oren said, “is the leader in high-tech agriculture,” reclaiming “about 90% of its water,” the highest percentage of any country in the world. Spain ranks second on the list and only reclaims about 13%.
One fear that lingers around the historic peace deal for Oren, is that it could provoke terrorism from Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups in the area. “Every time we’ve made any movement toward peace, it brings the terrorists out of the woodwork,” he said.
Despite that trepidation, he believes normalization could easily catch on around the region, and favors Bahrain, Oman, and “perhaps the Sudanese” to next arrive at the negotiating table with Israel.
On the subject of the upcoming U.S. election, Oren said he is concerned that Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have said, if elected, they will re-start the Iran nuclear deal canceled by President Trump. Oren believes the best thing Israel can do in advance of that situation is to clearly lay out conditions for an Iran deal that would be acceptable to the country.
The former Ambassador suggested that Israel must be absolutely solid on the stipulations that Iran needs to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, put an end to supporting terror, “come clean on previous nuclear activity,” end their intercontinental ballistic missile program, and agree to “truly invasive inspections” of their weapons facilities moving forward.
Oren said that it is imperative Iran come to understand that “if they want to keep their nuclear program, they will not survive economically and they will be facing a united strategic front again them in the Middle East.”
Turning to the domestic front, Oren addressed the country's ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus and how it is impacting the popularity of Israel's government, which was assembled following three inconclusive elections almost exclusively to combat the pandemic.
Like the citizens of most nations, Israelis are facing high unemployment rates and are wondering when some semblance of normal life will return. As such, Oren speculated that the Israeli government will not be calling for new elections any time soon, "A government that was formed to fight corona is not going to want to go to elections ... Netanyahu is not getting stronger," he said.
Oren’s new book of short stories, “The Night Archer”, is available on Amazon.com and where books are sold. It is the former Ambassador’s first published work of fiction following several best selling nonfictions books.
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