Opinion |

Israel, UAE and Bahrain: Celebrate a Momentous Diplomatic Breakthrough for the Middle East

The friendship on display at the ceremony was extraordinary. Normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab states, a warm peace, should be a stimulus, not an impediment, to progress on the Palestinian front

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The watershed agreements signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and Israel and Bahrain, represent the most momentous diplomatic breakthrough in the Middle East for over a quarter of a century, and this should be celebrated. 

I have long believed that reaching an agreed solution to the Palestinian issue will not be possible without the direct engagement and cooperation of the Arab world.

These agreements provide the opportunity to establish a new framework for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and we should work on creating the right conditions so that peace and normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab states can serve as a stimulus, rather than an impediment, to progress on the Palestinian front.

The establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab states also provides an enormous opportunity to build cooperation based on a shared outlook, crucial for promoting the security, stability and economic wellbeing of the region. 

With a generation of bold and courageous leaders seeking to create modern societies based on religious and cultural tolerance and co-existence, and modern economies based on diversification and the embrace of technological advances, Israel and the Arab nations like the UAE and Bahrain have a huge amount to gain by working together.

The ceremony itself was an extraordinary event not simply because of its objective significance, but because it was obvious that this peace has the capability to be warm.

People from both sides mixed openly and willingly. Friends are being made. And friendship is the true basis for building peace. Not the letter of an agreement, but its spirit.

These landmark agreements are therefore important in their own right; but they also serve as a massive and welcome opportunity to recast the politics of the region for the benefit of future generations.

Tony Blair is the former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and former Special Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East. He is the Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Twitter: @InstituteGC