As Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up to the podium flanked by the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the UAE to sign what has been hailed as a "historic peace agreement" between Israel and the two Gulf states, many wondered where the Palestinians were. Indeed, the absence of Palestinians was noted by analysts familiar with the bloody history of Zionism's colonial project, as a deliberate objective by the architects of the deal to fulfil the vision of "Greater Israel". It's a vision built on the Zionist myth of "a land without a people for a people without a land".
The White House ceremony presided over by Trump thus reflected Netanyahu's fantasy world in which Palestinians are sub-human, irrelevant and a nuisance. And entirely absent from the picture.
The so-called "peace" deals between Israel and US client states are bizarre because, as surrogates in the service of US hegemony, neither Bahrain nor the UAE have ever been at war with Israel. And apart from not being enemies, the two Gulf oligarchies have for decades maintained a clandestine love-affair with Israel, on the assumption that their security is tied to the security of the settler-colonial state. This is not confined to Bahrain and the UAE; most Arab despots view a secure Israel as their guarantor of safety.
The reality is that Palestinians are not irrelevant; they really do matter, despite the US-Israel plot to erase them from the equation to be replaced by Arab client-regimes willing to follow the Zionist script.
So what are these deals? And what is the much-vaunted "dawn of a new Middle East" all about?
Contrary to the illusion created at the White House in pursuit of fake "peace", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo let the cat out of the bag during his foray into the region a few days ago: normalisation is all about creating a military alliance against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Alastair Crooke of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum confirmed that Pompeo's explanation revealed that the UAE and Israel have agreed to form a security and military alliance against Iran to protect US interests in the Middle East.
According to Crooke's assessment, if the devil is in the detail, the agreement and any that might follow with more Arab countries — as promised by Trump — means that there will be an Israeli military presence in the Gulf and a joint Israeli-UAE intelligence base on Yemen's Socotra Island in the Red Sea basin overlooking Bab Al-Mandab Strait. In other words, far from being a "peace deal" to transform the Middle East into a region of milk and honey with false promises of "prosperity", the agreement is likely to launch a new era of war and instability.
Based on Pompeo's revelations, Crooke's suggestion is that the agreement will transform the conflict in the Middle East from being Arab-Israeli to Arab-Iranian and perhaps Arab-Turkish later on.
That Palestinian rights have been trampled on by the "Abraham Accords" is confirmed by the fact that the Trump administration, in cahoots with Israel and the Arab regimes, has taken Jerusalem "off the table", as Pompeo put it. In the context of non-existent Palestinian "negotiations", the Syrian Golan Heights and the occupied Jordan Valley have also been "taken off the table". The harsh reality about which Crooke warns, is that according to Pompeo's formulation of the conflict transformation engineered by the US the whole Palestinian issue is "off the table" as well.
Hence, in the context of these grubby deals, "peace" is a misnomer which has been twisted to suit themselves by Trump, Netanyahu and the Arab regimes in Bahrain and the UAE. What they have agreed is very clearly a military pact with malicious intent.
"The ceremony in Washington is not a historic peace deal, but a historic arms deal," tweeted Knesset member Ayman Odeh. "It's accepting a reality in which the Palestinians live under occupation without independence or basic rights."
Palestinians and solidarity movements across the world know that it will be business as usual for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, even after these "peace" deals. Their campaigns against Israeli apartheid will continue as well.
The UAE and Bahrain have signed a deal authorising Israel to continue imprisoning Palestinians under a brutal military occupation. Shamefully, this means that Arab states are endorsing Israeli settlers who expand illegal settlements by stealing more and more Palestinian land; they are granting Israeli soldiers a mandate to brutalise Palestinian civilians at military checkpoints, enter and destroy their homes by force, detain and torture Palestinian women, children and men, and also kill as many as they want in the process. Did I say shameful? It's actually disgraceful.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.