Silent alliances and shifting tides: unveiling the hidden pathways to resolving interstate rivalries – the UAE-Israel case

Amira Schiff, Chen Kertcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study delves into the transformation of UAE-Israel relations, which transitioned from a long-term rivalry to a formal peace agreement in 2020. It aims to uncover the multifaceted elements that influenced both nations’ pursuit of bilateral negotiations, with a special emphasis on the role of unofficial collaboration. Design/methodology/approach: Employing a case study approach, the research traces the evolution of the UAE-Israel ties, mapping their progression from covert collaborations to public accords. This exploration is set against a backdrop of political, economic, and societal factors that have historically characterized the broader Israel-Arab conflict. Real-world dynamics and theoretical constructs are analyzed in tandem to derive comprehensive insights. Findings: Key drivers for the transformation of UAE-Israel relations included the threat from Iran, internal disturbances, economic stresses, and the strategic advantages of discreet diplomacy. Exogenous catalysts like the Covid-19 pandemic and Israel's annexation plans in 2019-2020 played pivotal roles, capitalizing on pre-existing covert collaborations and shared regional interests. Constructive strategies, notably inducements, effectively reshaped their adversarial relationship. The resultant U.S.-mediated agreement conferred strategic, security, economic, and diplomatic benefits to both parties. Importantly, the potency of conengagement conflict management strategy, especially when bolstered by exogenous factors and growing mutual interest, emerged as a game-changer in terminating longstanding rivalries. Originality/value: This study offers a unique perspective on Israel-UAE relations, emphasizing the significance of covert engagements, inducements, and the innovative conengagement strategy in conflict resolution. By examining a relationship devoid of direct armed conflict, the research underscores the interplay of economic, political, and societal factors in reshaping rivalries. This case study serves as a testament to the potential for transformative change in enduring disputes when the right conditions and strategies align, supplementing conventional perspectives and offering valuable implications for policy and mediation initiatives in the Middle East.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-191
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Conflict Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2024


  • Conflict management
  • Peace process
  • UAE–Israel


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