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On 13 August the White House announced a deal to normalise diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The deal included a commitment by Israel to suspend its planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory. The agreement is considered historic because of the refusal of many Arab states to recognise Israel ever since its creation.

Bahrain quickly followed the UAE lead. Oman is another country that analysts say may join the UAE and Bahrain, but it is Saudi Arabia that would be by far the biggest prize.

The UK Government warmly welcomed the deal.

Several commentators have argued that, while the deal offers a lot of economic and political advantages for Israel and the UAE, Palestinians are the biggest losers. Palestinian leaders bitterly denounced the deal.

The deal has been widely welcomed in Israel, with opposition politicians saying that such negotiations are the way forward for Israel’s relations with its neighbours.

The UAE Government has said that it wants a “warm peace”, unlike the peace between Israel and Egypt, for example. The UAE public may not yet be fully behind that, according to one opinion poll.

The deal shows that despite US withdrawal of many of its troops in the region, the US remains the mist influential country. The real usefulness of the deal to the Trump Administration could be to encourage evangelical Christians to vote Trump in November, however.

While Saudi Arabia has so far stuck to its traditional policy of requiring a two-state solution before establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, it has taken steps that could be interpreted as trying to pave the way for that historic change.

A Saudi move would transform the political scene in the Middle East. Although it could end the division between Israel and many Arab states, however, it could widen other divides, such as that between Iran and the Gulf states, and that between pro- and anti-Islamist factions, which has seen Saudi Arabia and the UAE blockade Qatar.

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