It's time to build a new, peaceful Middle East

by

Mustafa Al Zarooni

Published: Tue 22 Sep 2020, 10:03 AM

Last updated: Tue 22 Sep 2020, 12:15 PM


Peaceful coexistence is a hallmark of developed nations and regions. The ability to resolve conflicts by peaceful means can empower nations, allowing them to focus on more important aspects of a nation, such as building trust and social cohesion, education, healthcare, etc. 
Yet, countries in the Middle East have been embroiled in conflicts for years. Ideological differences, wars have consumed much of our attention. A few countries have made progress in the region, which should inspire others to follow their footsteps. But the Arab world is still beset with dilemmas on how to move on and make policy choices that keep the best interests of people in mind. 
Some countries continue to play a populist role, keeping up an image of struggle and resistance. They are stalling the progress of their country and are unwilling to build relations with neighbours. Building secret relations with enemies does little to bridge the trust deficit created over the years. Despite being a part of the region, they are not contributing to its progress in any meaningful way. 
Take, for example, some major developments of the past few years, including annexing the Golan Heights and moving of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. There was no real opposition against these steps, not even a word when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced annexation of 30 per cent of the West Bank. Did any country stand up to Israel and suggest ways to stop annexation from happening and open doors for discussions and negotiations?
The UAE took the lead and the leadership saw reason in extending a hand of friendship to Israel. By establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, it has brought the issue of two-state solution to the forefront. Bahrain is supporting the UAE, and now it remains to be seen when will more Arab countries follow suit, establish relations with Israel and demand recognition for Palestine. 
Peace between states, political dialogue and negotiation have always been fundamental pillars of successful diplomacy that can help settle complex issues afflicting the region.
The UAE firmly believes that extending bridges of communication is the fastest way to security and stability. This explains the country's bold step to sign a peace treaty with Israel. 
Israel now must highlight its true intentions towards Arabs. The Palestinians, meanwhile, must reassess their plans. The government is still living under an illusion of demands that have left no room for compromise. 
Perhaps, it is the time for them to have a more youthful and open-minded government that can fathom what does "peace for peace" truly mean. 
-malzarooni@khaleejtimes.com
 




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