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The United Arab Emirates and Israel said yesterday that they had agreed to establish diplomatic relations, making the UAE just the third Arab nation to sign a peace agreement with Israel. (Fun fact: the others are Egypt, in 1979, and Jordan, in 1994.) Donald Trump announced the agreement at the White House, taking credit for an arrangement that had been in the works for years before he ever took office. Now that he's inherited a small piece of Middle East peace, you have to wonder how he'll manage to run it into the ground.

In exchange for the agreement to normalize relations, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to suspend plans to annex occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. Before anyone starts talking about awarding Trump the Nobel Peace Prize, they should ask him to explain, in detail, what the chief sticking points in the negotiations were, and how he helped the parties overcome them. Then, for good measure, they should ask him to point to the UAE and Israel on a map (he will point to "camel").

For the full deets, the New York Times has its usual excellent coverage, background, and analysis, and you should read that, because when it isn't serving up mindbendingly awful takes, the Grey Lady still does good journalism.

But first, let's be clear here: Donald Trump didn't broker shit in this deal. Jared Kushner apparently acted as a go-between for some of the closing parts of the negotiations, but it's unlikely he was much more than window dressing for the deal, which both countries already wanted. And it was very nice of two of Trump's pals, Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (aka "MBZ"), who leads the UAE, to give Trump a photo op and a political reacharound during an election year.


Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security advisor to Barack Obama, noted on Twitter that the agreement

enshrines what has been the emerging status quo in the region for a long time (including the total exclusion of Palestinians). Dressed up as an election eve achievement from two leaders who want Trump to win.

But what if that's just sour grapes from an Obama guy who didn't have Donald Trump's brilliant negotiating skills — none of which Trump has ever demonstrated while in office — and simply resents that Trump sealed the deal? Honestly, if Trump did anything more than have a conference call with Netanyahu and MBZ yesterday and then call in reporters for the announcement, not even the White House is offering any evidence of it. If anything, the agreement was useful to all three of them, mostly for domestic purposes.

The Times notes that Netanyahu and Trump were in a pickle, or perhaps a box, or maybe an imaginary tesseract because of their own policies:

[Netanyahu's] annexation promise, made repeatedly throughout three recent elections, had left him in a box after Mr. Kushner opposed his moving forward without working through Mr. Trump's official peace plan. [...]

Martin S. Indyk, who served as special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under President Barack Obama, said the deal gave both Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu a way to escape a political box of their own making with the president's stalled peace plan and the prime minister's politically problematic annexation drive.

"It gets Trump out of the corner he was in having agreed to legitimizing the settlements and then discovering that the Arab world had a problem with that," he said. "Now he's got something he can claim credit for."

For his part, MBZ got to show he was very toughly stopping Israel from annexing Palestinian land, a point he repeatedly made after the agreement was announced. Netanyahu insisted to settler groups that annexation wasn't off the table, just on hold for a little while.

And Donald Trump? He got to be a raving egotistical asshole, for a change. In the Oval Office, he "joked" that the deal ought to be called the "Donald J. Trump Accord," and everybody laughed, although today would be a good day to start your own tally of how frequently he "jokes" about it going forward. His national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, dutifully said he wouldn't be surprised if "the president is eventually nominated for a Nobel Prize," because Obama got one and Trump wants one soooooo baaaad.


Joe Biden, who actually did do negotiations in the Mideast as vice president, issued a statement that didn't mention Trump at all, because Jesus, why would you?

I personally spent time with leaders of both Israel and the U.A.E. during our administration building the case for cooperation and broader engagement and the benefits it could deliver to both nations, and I am gratified by today's announcement.

in other words, "Good job tying a bow on the work we started. Don't fuck it up, stupid."

Trump wasted no time before fantasizing about how quick and easy it will be for his next big success, reaching a new nuclear deal with Iran, although that can only happen once he's "reelected." Even though, unlike Israel and the UAE, there's no sign at all Iran wants to ink an agreement with Trump, he boasted, "If I win the election, I will have a deal with Iran within 30 days."

You bet. And it'll be called the "Donald J. Trump Is The Greatest Deal-Maker With Iran Accord."

[NYT]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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