This week, for the first time ever, an Israeli passenger jet took off from Tel Aviv and landed in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The historic occasion was the establishment of official relations between Israel and the UAE, marking the third time an Arab nation has made peace with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan.
The difference between this agreement, known as the Abraham Accord, and past Arab treaties, is that there seems to be a genuine sense of warmth between the two countries. With Egypt and Jordan there are deep, high-level security and political ties, but the media and average citizens tend to be anti-Israel, resulting in what has been referred to as a cold peace.
The warmth of the new Israel-UAE relations could be the result of two developments. While the announcement of the Abraham Accord was a surprise bombshell, the two countries have been cooperating and building a relationship for years. The official cementing of ties is only the result of work that has been accumulating from the bottom up. In addition, while Israel fought multiple bloody wars against Egypt and Jordan, it has little negative baggage with a country like the UAE.
One important question is whether this new alliance will encourage other Arab nations to establish relations with Israel. So far, there have been encouraging signs. Saudi Arabia allowed the El Al jet to use its airspace for its historic mission, and there are indications this will be a permanent change.
In a year of chaos and confusion, the Israel-UAE deal is a bright spot. Peace is always a good thing, and it’s exciting to think about the possibilities of Arab-Israeli cooperation. The sky’s the limit as these two thriving nations join hands in cooperation and mutual respect.