Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to divert the attention of the Israeli public from the recently announced three-week lockout to a ceremony at the White House that officially formalizes the latest diplomatic breakthroughs with two Arab states.
Host by his close ally Donald Trump, Netanyahu will sign agreements Tuesday with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates that, while failing to comply with full peace deals, allow the countries to establish open business, direct flights and diplomatic relations.
“We now have two historic peace agreements with two Arab countries that were established in one month,”
Israel has only previously made peace deals with Egypt and Jordan, and the US-mediated messages are seen as materializing the growing closeness between Israel and some Arab states, largely due to shared hostility to Iran. Israeli media have speculated that other countries such as Morocco and Oman may also make deals. The plane Netanyahu flew to DC was written with the words peace in Arabic, English and Hebrew.
However, recent agreements have also been rejected as a spectacle. No monarchy in the Persian Gulf has ever been at war with Israel, and the two have already established extensive informal ties.
Writing in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper that is deeply critical of Netanyahu, journalist Chemi Shalev said the country and its two Gulf partners “are just coming out of the closet with the secret strategic ties they have maintained for years.”
Trump and Netanyahu, he argues, “artificially inflate the meaning of agreements and elevate them to historic breakthroughs to enrich themselves, improve their polls and distract from their monumental failures in the battle against the coronavirus, the war against the rule of law and efforts to destroying the democracy of their countries. It’s a shameless propaganda ploy, that’s all. “
For the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, who have long relied on Arab support in their struggle for independence, The development is also seen as a failure in their attempts to increase international pressure on Israel. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Steye said Tuesday would be a “black day” and “added to the Palestinian pain calendar.”
In Israel, meanwhile, the announcement of a second blockade has left the country shocked, with fears that a three-week closed business and restricting people to their homes could devastate livelihoods. Netanyahu, who is currently on trial for corruption allegations, which he denies, has faced weekly protests, fueled by people who claim he committed an improper pandemic.
Anger is rising over whether the 70-year-old leader reopened the country too early and too soon after a previous spring blockade. The country is now in a deep recession and faces restrictions that the finance ministry says will cost 6.5 billion shekels (£ 1.46 billion).
“Netanyahu was the one who sent the young people to hang out and drink after the ‘success’ of the previous lock,” Yehuda Sharoni wrote in the Maariv newspaper on Monday. “But leaving aside the issue of blame, the worrying question is whether the business sector, which barely survived the first blockade, will be able to recover from the blockade decision this time and get back on its feet – or whether it is a fatal blow. “
With infections rising to 4,000 a day, Netanyahu said Sunday night that hospitals were “raising the red flag” and that locking was essential. However, a major problem in Israel on Monday morning was whether the deadline was open.
Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levy speculated that easing the blockage across the country would happen when daily coronavirus infections drop to 1,000 a day, but acknowledged that final criteria had not yet been set.
“We would like to reach 500 cases a day, but it is clear that this will not happen at this time,” Levy told public television Kan.
More than 3,100 people were diagnosed with the virus on Sunday.