On September 15, a ceremony was held in the White House to sign Israel's "peace" agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. A week earlier, a Norwegian MP named Christian Tybring-Gjedde nominated Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for the establishment of that "peace."
This is the culmination of a large-scale marketing deception, in which the parties - especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - made sure to use the word "peace" deceptively, even though it actually is a formalization of relations that have existed for three decades between countries that do not share a border or are in conflict.
Netanyahu's efforts to deceive the public about the normalized relations includes depicting the "historic" diplomatic move as one that carries no price, or in his words, "peace for peace."
In reality, the agreement was made conditional on abandoning the annexation plan that had been celebrated here with song and dance and replacing it with another "historic" event.
Incidentally, this is the plan on which Netanyahu based his election campaign that brought him 36 Knesset seats, and featured at the center of the agenda he promoted in the past year.
Yet another price paid was Israel's consent to the F-35 aircraft deal, allowing USA to sell weaponry to the UAE, a deal that Netanyahu continued to deny even after it was revealed.
The agreement with the UAE allowed Netanyahu to ditch the annexation plan, which had stopped being useful, without it being perceived as a defeat. He did this by replacing one "diplomatic achievement" with another.
Faced with the threat of a three-count indictment, a health-economic crisis and intensifying demonstrations, he was given a golden opportunity to lower the flames of criticism against him, while continuing to pump his regular message: Netanyahu is in a "different league" and irreplaceable.
Furthermore, he knows that it will be hard for the public to oppose a move that could contribute to Israel's economy, tourism and foreign relations and is framed as a "peace" agreement, and how easy it will be for him to paint any criticism as sour grapes.
However, facts on the ground are not easily distorted. The first to pay the price for this deception are the Palestinians, for whom Israeli-Arab normalization perpetuates the violent and dispossessed reality that has been their lot in the past 53 years. Netanyahu and Trump's marketing ploy excludes Palestinians from the debate and deprives them of the right to national equality and self-determination.
And yet, it is Israeli society that is being taken for a fool, time and again falling into the same trap, partly because it has grown jaded and habituated to the situation after 53 years of military control in the territories.
We, Israelis, are also going to pay for the deception, and not just because it helps Netanyahu to remain in power and evade prosecution. The contribution of normalized relations with the UAE and Bahrain does not outweigh the damage done to us by moving further away from a feasible and sustainable diplomatic solution that will end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and put an end to the ongoing bloodshed.
This normalization comes at the expense of the two-state solution, which until recently was accepted by both sides and by the international community, and undermines various proposals derived from it, such as the Arab Peace Initiative.
After many years of ruling with trickery and deception, the huge demonstrations that have been taking place outside Netanyahu's residence in recent months are evidence that the public refuses to go on swallowing lies.
All that needs to be done now is to transfer this sober look to the diplomatic field, acknowledging that the lying is not only confined to matters of Covid-19 and indictments, but embedded in every step Netanyahu takes, including the normalization with the UAE and Bahrain.
Even a hundred official ceremonies in the White House will not succeed to take a deal by three leaders with vested interests and turn it into "peace."
Einat Ovadia is the executive director of Zulat – for equality and human rights