The joke of the year: Trump nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize

Haley Beardsley, Contributing Writer

My initial reaction to seeing a headline regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize included two things: the first, an audible inquiry — “what in the world?” — and the second, an immediate click on the article. It is nearly impossible to ignore such an intriguing headline considering the recent backlash Trump has been receiving, in addition to his utter incompetence.

Somewhere between the neglect of the Black Lives Matter movement and the blatant disregard for the severity of COVID-19, Trump’s brokering of the Israel-United Arab Emirates peace agreement, also known as the Abraham Accords, was perhaps lost in the chaos. This peace agreement between Israel and the UAE declared that the two nations would return to “normal relations,” exchanging resident ambassadors and spurring bilateral economic, political and societal growth, according to CNN. Israel and the UAE were said to have already been cooperating on military projects, but the peace agreement certified and publicized their long-suspected relations. In furtherance of such “normalization,” Israel agreed to suspend the annexation of the West Bank, land that had been continually disputed between Israel and Palestine. Trump brokered the agreement between Israel and the UAE.

Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for “trying to create peace between nations,” but in reality, his beloved agreement has changed nothing. William Todman, an associate fellow in the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explains that the development of regional peace is being “exaggerated” considering the UAE and Israel were never actually engaged in war or even precipitative military conflict. Calling the Abraham Accords a “peace agreement” is thus a misnomer for a document that simply publicized ongoing, peaceful relations between the UAE and Israel. Furthermore, this is not a “peace-for-peace” deal — it is conditioned on Israel’s delay in annexing the West Bank.

In terms of suspending the annexation, why would Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, agree to halt his long-intended territorial goals for Greater Israel to solidify relations with a small, seemingly unimportant Gulf state? He wouldn’t and he didn’t; the leader merely agreed to “suspend” the annexation, leaving the door open for future conflict and acquisition of the desired West Bank territory. By agreeing to simply suspend the annexation, Netanyahu can ride out the popularity of creating “peace” with an Arab state until his reelection. After securing the position and power, Netanyahu can continue his goal of annexation without hesitation or the ostensible prohibition provided for in the Abraham Accords. The agreement provides no cemented long-term peace, and is hence unjustly being depicted as a win for Trump. 

Finally, the Peace Prize nomination suggests that Trump has sparked possible peace between Israel and the rest of the Arab world; however, the chance for “spillover peace” with other Middle Eastern nations is extremely unlikely. According to the Jewish News, most countries in the region will not reach normalization with Israel until a separate agreement is made with Palestine. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 provides, for instance, that Arab states are not to enter into Israeli peace agreement without a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; normative commitments to the territory, too, serve as restraints on state diplomacy. The UAE in particular has been the recipient of international opprobrium regarding the Abraham Accord, notably Palestine itself, whose leadership described the accord as a “betrayal.” The Abraham Accords have no chance of establishing long-term peace between Israel and the Arab world–indeed, if anything, it has made the schisms present in the Middle East yet more apparent. In short, Trump’s superficial agreement is hardly worth the attention it’s received thus far, much less a Nobel Peace Prize.

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