by: Janet Aslin
Tuesday, 14 September 2021 | Tomorrow will mark one year since the seemingly impossible was accomplished—the normalization of relations between Israel and two Arab states before resolution of the “Palestinian issue.” The historic signing of the Abraham Accords on the White House lawn defied the wisdom of prior US administrations which said there would be no peace in the Middle East until the Palestinians had a state of their own.
On September 15, 2020, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US President Donald Trump signed the original Abraham Accords, ushering in a new era of cooperation and goodwill in the turbulent region.
Two additional countries soon followed the lead of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. Sudan and Israel signed a normalization agreement in October, while Morocco and Israel inked their agreement in December. These represent the first initiations of formal diplomatic ties between Israel and neighboring Arab countries since her 1994 agreement with Jordan.
The momentous achievement was celebrated last night at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan in an event organized by Israel’s mission to the UN. Hosted by Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, UN ambassadors from three of the four signatory nations as well as Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, were in attendance. Although it does not yet have official diplomatic relations with Israel, the country of Oman was represented by its deputy ambassador to the UN, Ahmed Dawood Ali Al Zadjal.
In his remarks, Erdan summed up the sentiment that brought the Accords to life one year ago: “The moderate countries in the Middle East must unite to tackle our shared challenges, such as climate change, and form a regional alliance to confront our shared threats, first and foremost, Iran.”
The Abraham Accord agreements differ from Israel’s two previous ones with Egypt (1979) and Jordan which were mainly government-to-government in scope. While new embassies have been opened and diplomatic representatives appointed, the Accords also include people-to-people interactions as a result of direct flights and tourism to places that had previously been off-limits. Economic ties are blossoming as well.
In a recent post, foreignpolicy.com noted that “a list recently compiled by the UAE contains 63 examples of public cooperation with Israel initiated during the first year of peace alone. They include joint coronavirus research and an agreement by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala sovereign wealth fund to buy a [US] $1 billion stake in a Mediterranean gas rig co-owned by Chevron and several Israeli energy companies.”
And the agreements have withstood their first serious test—the 11-day conflict in May between Hamas and Israel. Previously, these Arab nations might have broken off the newly-formed diplomatic ties with Israel in order to stand publicly on the side of Hamas. However, they chose to stay out of the fray and keep moving forward in their normalized and open relations with Israel.
Additional events to commemorate the signing have been planned for Washington DC and Jerusalem.
Posted on September 14, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 14, 2021)
Photo Credit: Tia Dufour/Trump Whitehouse Archive/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
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