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PEACE BREAKTHROUGHS in the Mideast are as rare as snowstorms in the Sahara, so the deal establishing normal relations between Israel and an erstwhile antagonist, the United Arab Emirates, is a watershed. If it proves durable, the accord, announced Thursday by President Trump, could lay the groundwork for a broader formal entente between Jerusalem and the oil-rich Gulf Arab states, whose cooperation until now has been mostly covert.
That would be a big deal, which is why Mr. Trump was entitled to hail the blueprint, mediated by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, as “huge.” It’s true despite the fact that, at its core, the deal swaps peace and normalization with an Arab country in return for Israel refraining from what would be a damagingly counterproductive annexation of roughly 30 percent of the West Bank.
The threat of that unilateral land grab was made explicit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for whom it represented a political payoff to Jewish settlers in the West Bank, who form part of his base. Had he gone forward with it, he might have fortified his position while facing a corruption trial; he might also have permanently blown up any hope for a peace deal with the Palestinians and triggered broader instability in the region.