In two articles published on the Saudi website Elaph, Emirati journalist and political analyst Salem Al-Ketbi highlighted his country's role and efforts in fostering sustainable peace and stability in the region by adopting new approaches to resolve the ongoing conflict between the Arabs and Israel. The article titled "The Culture of Peace in the Middle East," published April 6, 2022, described the speech delivered by UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at last month's Negev Summit as characterized by "transparency" and "courage," and argued that it "breaks through the wall of silence, maps the way towards building real regional peace and discloses what many have not been able to express." Al-Ketbi's second article, titled "The Palestinian Issue and the Changes in the International Scene," published April 11, 2022, defended the position of the Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel against the accusation that they have betrayed the Palestinian issue. It also argued that the hostility between the Arab countries and Israel has neither brought peace to the region nor resolved the conflict, and that it was now time to try new approaches that take into consideration the reshaping of international relations according to the realities resulting from the Ukrainian crisis.
Salem Al-Ketbi (Source: Facebook.com/salemalketbieng)
The following are translated excerpts from Al-Ketbi's articles.
"The Culture of Peace in the Middle East," Al-Ketbi, April 6, 2022: At The Negev Summit, The UAE Foreign Minister Said That "Israel Is Part Of The Middle East... The Lack Of Communication Channels Between Israel And The Arabs... Does Not Mean That Israel Does Not Exist'
"The speech delivered by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, during the Negev Summit, which took place recently, has received substantial attention by observers and experts around the world – notably, his expression of regret that 43 years have been wasted (since Egypt and Israel signed the peace treaty). He said: 'We lost those 43 years of knowing each other better, of working together and of changing the narrative that many generations of Israelis and Arabs have been living... I think what we are trying to achieve here today is changing the narrative and creating a different future.'
"Indeed, that speech deserves all the attention – not only because it included transparency, courage, openness and clarity, but also because it breaks through the wall of silence, maps the way towards building real regional peace, and discloses what many have not been able to express.
"The speech of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the historic summit comprised hard facts that no one can deny. Actually, Israel is part of the Middle East and the lack of communication channels between Israel and the Arabs does not negate that fact and does not mean that Israel does not exist and those who say so are deceiving themselves and others. Therefore, to continue betting on the slogans of the past and pleasing the masses with the resistance discourse means underestimating the suffering of millions inside Palestine, and also a political gain which many regional forces are seeking. Acknowledging facts and using them as a starting point towards finding genuine resources for peace is the only way out from this absurdity, which has been exhausting a just cause.
"One of the important facts included in the speech is that changing the future requires changing the present, and that any attempts to building real peace in the Middle East must start with modifying the rigid stereotypes with which the generations in the region have grown up, and planting a culture of coexistence that is different from the culture of marginalization, exclusion and violence upon which radical and terrorist groups which use the Palestinian issue to score religious or political gain thrive."
The UAE Sincerely Believes in "Dialogue, Peace and Coexistence"
"The UAE adheres to its values and principles when it chooses dialogue, peace and coexistence at the top of every diplomatic effort. Those who observe the recent efforts of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, and of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, know very well that the UAE has been exerting maximum efforts in order to establish peace and defuse tension and conflict. Those who have observed UAE efforts in all the regional and internationals capitals lately can easily conclude that UAE diplomacy is deeply committed to the principles included in the 'Principles of the 50.' [These principles] highlight the strategic path of the state in all fields, as the UAE navigates through all the intersecting lines and aspires to build regional and international balances.
"'Creating a new generation' is an objective that the UAE aspires to achieve, and it has laid the foundations many years ago. The development paradigm of the UAE has become a source of inspiration for the Arab and Muslim countries. The UAE has become a mecca for Arab youth to live and work in, and that is an important point, because building a role model has become a commitment for the UAE to extend the foundation for believing that the millions of youths in the region can coexist."
"Because Of Past Wars, The Culture Of Dialogue Is Absent From Our Region"
"Those who question the intention and seriousness of the UAE in its effort at peace building and regional coexistence should remember that the UAE has reached out to the sworn [enemy] neighbor Iran at the same time as it reached out to Israel, to send a strong message of reassurance that it did not intend to target anyone. Those who would argue against the logic behind the regret expressed by UAE about the wasted years and decades since the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty should realize that during that lengthy period, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was not resolved. In fact, there were many rounds of conflict and violence, which means that betting on time and merely repeated slogans and betting on a just Arab cause is not a solution, and will lead neither party to safety.
"As a result, there was no dialogue, and the culture of dialogue has been absent from our region, which does not know much about it – either because of the wide spread of radicalism and terrorism ideology, or because the central issue of the Arabs, the Palestinian issue, has turned into a subject for internal conflict, a [source] to solicit power and prestige regardless of the interest of the Palestinian people."
The UAE Is Perfectly Qualified To Bring Peace
"Yes, the UAE is moving forward with strength, clarity, and honesty to plant a new narrative to be the foundation on which the nations of the Middle East coexist. This is not an easy mission, but it suits the UAE perfectly, as the most qualified and accepted country with the ability to convince others that it is capable of shaping a clear vision for the future of this region that has produced only news of conflict, crisis, violence, killings. and bloodshed."
"The Palestinian Issue and the Changes in the International Scene," Al-Ketbi, April 11, 2022: Arab States That Normalized Relation With Israel Did Not Betray The Palestinian Issue
"It seems that the question of the fate of the Palestinian issue will be become a subject of discussion with every glimpse of development with regard to the relationship between Israel and the Arab states and between Israel and the Muslim countries, as some may try to assume that the Arabs have betrayed the Palestinian issue and abandoned the Palestinian people. This assumption has many flaws, and ignores obvious facts that are known to all. Despite these facts, there are some groups that will use these allegations as excuses to continue wreaking havoc, violence, extremism, and terrorism, and inciting to killing of innocent civilians inside Israel. This means that the issue is not related to the Arabs' position, but rather to terror plots which target everyone in our region."
The State Of Hostility With Israel Has Not Brought Peace
"The Palestinian issue is not for sale in the political market, to be traded by this or that country. It is a just case according to international law and charters, and resolving and settling it is not connected to the lasting state of hostility between the Arabs and Israel, for a simple reason. [That reason] is that the conflict has been going on for more than 70 years, during which the two parties waged many wars, and the issue is that there have not been any qualitative breakthrough that could bring peace and stability to the Palestinian people and the region."
There Is A Need For A New Approach, In Light Of Global Changes
"What is happening today is that the world is changing at a rapid pace, with radical and qualitative changes occurring in the current international system. [This is happening] as international relations are being reshaped according to the realities resulting from the Ukrainian crisis, politically, militarily, and economically, and pertaining to security. These changes have touched most of the regional and international political landscape, to the extent that traditional alliances which lasted for decades are now facing uncertainty. Many of these alliances have not survived the sweeping wave of changes, and some of them are on the brink of collapse; others are waiting for the reshaping of the new rules of the game that controls these alliances.
"In light of the above, it wouldn't be logical for the Palestinian position to be limited to specific discourse, positions, actions, or behavior. In fact, it should be enhanced, to encompass all the new strategic realities. It should also understand the motive behind the Arab states' activities that are taking place, and not hide behind the discourse of incitement and condemnation of everything related to cooperative relationship between the Arabs and Israel."
Normalization Of Relations With Israel Does Not Harm The Palestinians – And Can Contribute to Positively Changing Israel's Policies
"Supporting the rights of the Palestinian people and their cause is an undebatable issue in the Arab collective consciousness, and the Arab's official position is known – and there is no harm to the Palestinian people resulting from the peace agreements. In fact, it is quite the opposite, as the presence of communication channels with the leaders of Israel at times of crisis and turmoil is a highly important issue. In addition, the fact that Israel is keen on creating conditions and opportunities for other Arab countries to sign peace agreements could well contribute to positively changing Israeli policies, as long as they don't bring public embarrassment to the leaders and opportunities to their domestic political opponents.
"Looking at one of the recent events of cooperation between Arab states and Israel – the Negev Summit – we realize that it was attended by a number of Arab foreign ministers and their U.S. and Israeli counterparts. During it, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the [UAE] Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, delivered a speech affirming the UAE's commitment to support the people of Palestine and its legitimate rights, notably establishing an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital. His Highness also reaffirmed the UAE's commitment to support the Palestinian people, stressing that the UAE is in line with the Arab consensus regarding the centrality of the Palestinian issue. He also highlighted the UAE's vison and deep conviction, which was not changed by the signing of the Abraham Accords in August 2020 – that is, that seeking peace and stability is compatible with upholding the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and to reassure that fostering coexistence and tolerance does not mean neglecting the issue, the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights."
It Is Time To Try "A More Civilized Approach"
"The violence and terrorism directed against Israel or others will only contribute to more hostility, undermine the chances of fostering peace, and make all the efforts for peace go to waste. The experiences of the past years and decades are clear testimony of the result of violence and bloodshed – and that that it is now time to try a better and more civilized approach to manage the conflict with Israel."