Analysis of international affairs and current crises
Friday, August 14, 2020
The New Yorker
Israel's New Peace Deal Transforms the Middle East
By Robin Wright
In 1982, a Palestinian fighter told me a dark joke on the day that the Israeli invasion of Lebanon forced six thousand P.L.O. guerrillas to retreat on ships for distant lands. The story began with God telling President Ronald Reagan, the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, and the P.L.O. chief, Yasir Arafat, that he would answer one question from each of them. Reagan went first. “How long will it be before capitalism rules the world?” he asked. God replied, “A hundred years.” Reagan began to cry. “Why?” God said. “Because it won’t happen in my lifetime,” the President responded. Brezhnev then asked, “How long will it be before the whole world is Communist?” God replied, “Two hundred years.” Brezhnev began to cry because that, too, wouldn’t happen in his lifetime. Then Arafat asked, “God, how long will it be before there is a state for my people in Palestine?” And God cried.
On Thursday, the White House announced a historic agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich sheikhdom and long-time ally of the Palestinians, to normalize diplomatic relations. The surprise deal—expected to be signed at a White House ceremony in the coming weeks—will include opening embassies, trade and technology exchanges, direct flights and tourism, and coöperation on energy, security, and intelligence. In Tel Aviv, the city hall lit up with side-by-side flags of Israel and the U.A.E. The Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, invited the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, to visit. Read on...