The agreement on the relation normalization between the UAE and Israel, called Abraham Accords, was signed on September 15, 2020. The Palestine issue remains unresolved for the entire Middle East geopolitics. The United States mediated the signing of the Abraham Accords. Concerning the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, this may significantly change the connection and power balance system in the entire Middle East future.
The problem is the Israeli-Arab agreements do not solve the most complex Palestinian problem; it continues to influence all political processes in the Middle East. Such a trend can intensify the most diverse processes in the region in politics, economics, and the military and lead to a negative situation in the area. The joint statement of opposition structures emphasizes that any step that contributes to the legitimization of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands would be considered a betrayal of Muslims worldwide. Representatives of the opposition structures of the UAE accented that the population rejects the agreement in Israel and supports the position of Palestine.
The situation in the Middle East region is still perplexing due to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The latter is associated with the parties’ claims for sovereignty over the same territories of mandated Palestine until 1948, controlled by Great Britain by the League of Nations’ decision (Shafir, 2017, 95). As the League of Arab States has conflicted with Israel since 1948 – since the state’s foundation, Arab countries still dispute its creation’s legitimacy (Shafir, 2017, 96). The oppression of the indigenous Arab population in the region has repeatedly caused severe political divisions. Despite this, the states maintained informal relations; they secretly collaborated in the defense, military, and intelligence spheres for a long time (Abu-Laban and Bakan, 2019, 297). As a result, the UAE became the Arab state to sign an agreement with Israel to normalize relations (Guzansky and Marshall, 2020, 381). The governments of all three countries, such as the USA, the UAE, and Israel, promise that the arrangements will be the solution to peaceful prosperity in the Middle East.
The UAE became the first monarchy in the Gulf to consider such an action. The UAE is looking to build up its military power and needs the United States to give them leeway in Libya, Yemen, and the African Horn (Al Ketbi, 2020). The UAE also expects that the trilateral deal will pave the way for purchasing fifth-generation F-35 fighters and the latest aerial vehicles from the United States (Guzansky and Marshall, 2020, 386). Consequently, it has resulted in some political issues regarding the national security of the UAE. As long as these accords’ opponents aim to encourage people who refuse the Abraham Accords to speak with people from the Gulf region and Arab countries, this position increases the perception of this agreement as a threat among UAE citizens. Moreover, the Abraham Accords were also condemned by the inhabitants of Palestine. They also accused the UAE of betraying the interests of the Arab people. Today, all Arab-Israeli normalization opponents appeal to the Palestinian problem and use all information tools to present a convenient position, manipulating public opinion.
Option One: Public Diplomacy
The strategy development regarding media in the UAE is designed to ensure the preservation and development of the information space. It increases awareness of the society about the most crucial socio-political factor of the relation normalization between countries (Elkus and Noonan, 2018, 21). Due to “smart power,” it can create a more positive perception of Abraham’s Accords among the Arab population in the UAE and Palestine (Al Ketbi, 2020, 391). The indicator of progress, in this case, can be a decrease in the number of negatively-minded citizens and weakening oppositional movements in Palestine.
With regard to the positive side, at the moment, the mass media in the UAE contributes to political promotion in the general agenda and information picture of the country. The media should cover political leaders’ activities, and influence groups, government agencies, and authorities at different levels. It can also explain several topics; for instance, the United States Emirates and Israel can benefit from large economic dividends from international relations’ normalization. In case broadcasting the main points of the Abraham Accords, it will help remove investment and tourism barriers. Travel companies discovered a massive surge of Israelis’ interest in vacationing in the Gulf a month before signing the Abraham Accords, as soon as negotiations started. Muslims are interested in the pilgrimage to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, being the third most significant shrine in Islam. Emirates Airlines can enter the Israeli market, and Israeli businesses have access to the World Expo, which will be held in Dubai in 2021-2022. Concerning positive outcomes for Palestinians, this agreement may benefit since the Arab side focuses on Israel’s stopping the Palestinian territories’ annexation. Tel-Aviv has delayed the continuation of its settlement activity. This can also be translated into the media, emphasizing the importance and possible solution to the Arab-Israel conflict.
This approach’s disadvantages are that the state information policy needs to regulate many aspects of disseminating information. The problem of informing society about the activities of the authorities and administration is also required. It is necessary to ensure the availability of objective data on solving social issues for the general population. The situation is complicated by the process of commercialization of the media. It is necessary to introduce special information centers as intermediaries between the authorities and the population by administering special information centers. The political system of the UAE has its specific features; therefore, the political role of the mass media in the country is limited but noticeable in the public, cultural and other spheres of life.
Option Two: Information Operations
Information operations against opposition might become one of the practical tools. The UAE can apply information and psychological processes since this is the planned use of disseminating information to exert a particular impact on a person’s attitudes and behavior. Such operations consist of political, military, and ideological measures, the purpose of which is to change the behavioral and emotional perspectives of groups of people and individuals on specific issues in the desired direction (Singer and Brooking, 2018, 167). This tool can be directed to the normalization opponents.
Nevertheless, during a psychological operation, control over information flows, rumors, and opinions may become a disadvantage as peace and friendship between Israel and the Arab states are still fragile. An important role is played here by attracting opinion leaders who influence forming opinions within their group. Consequently, this could escalate the Gaza Strip conflict and lead to a deterioration in the recently normalized relations between Israel and the UAE.
To summarize, strategic communication is the projection of states’ strategic values, interests, and goals into the mass consciousness through adequate synchronization of varied activities in all areas of public life. The UAE authorities are trying to create a detailed image of a peacemaker, which helps solve regional geopolitical problems. Based on this, the option of public democracy should be considered the most useful. It can be performed by using the media with information support for reforms and the political elite’s information agenda. Federal government bodies should be interested in using state media to deliver relevant information to the general public. With active coverage of the signing Abraham Accords and the favorable consequences caused by the normalization of relations, this event’s positivity will be consolidated in people’s minds.
Abu-Laban, Yasmeen, and Abigail B. Bakan. 2019. Israel, Palestine and the politics of race: Exploring identity and power in a global context. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Al Ketbi, Ebtesam. 2020. “Contemporary shifts in UAE. foreign policy: From the liberation of Kuwait to the Abraham Accords.” Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs 14(3): 391-398.
Elkus, Adam and Michael P. Noonan. 2018. Competitive shaping in world politics: A bibliographic essay and course outline. Philadelphia: Foreign Policy Research Institute.
Guzansky, Yoel, and Zachary A. Marshall. 2020. “The Abraham Accords: Immediate significance and long-term implications.” Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs 14(3): 379-389.
Shafir, Gershon. 2017. A half century of occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the world’s most intractable conflict. Berkeley: Univ of California Press.
Singer, Peter Warren, and Emerson T. Brooking. 2018. LikeWar: The weaponization of social media. Boston: Eamon Dolan Books.