Saturday, April 1, 2023

Focus – What are the next steps to expand the Abraham Agreement?

With the second anniversary, the historic signing of the Abrahamic Agreement ushered in a new era in the Middle East. Normalization agreements first reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and later the renewal of relations with Morocco, opened up new opportunities in the Middle East. People-to-people exchanges, business partnerships and government agreements have led to investment and development.

Notable agreements that have resulted in the agreements signed to date include:

  • The historic defense memorandum of understanding between Israel and Morocco in November 2021, the first between Israel and an Arab state.
  • In February 2022, Israel and Bahrain signed a security agreement.
  • Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a landmark free trade agreement in May 2022 that both sides hope will boost trade to $10 billion a year over the next five years.

Given this success, what’s next for the Abrahamic Agreement? Could other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, be next? Can the Abraham Accords be a model of global success?

At the 2022 AJC Global Forum, Gilad Erden, UN Ambassador to Israel, Jamal Fares Alrowai, UN Ambassador to Bahrain, Omar Hilale, UN Ambassador to Morocco and Lana Nussibeh, UAE Ambassador to the United Nations, discussed the benefits of the Abrahamic Agreement. discussed and what they anticipate will be needed to expand revolutionary agreements.

Leadership is essential in the United States

The signing of normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on an ideal day on the White House lawn in September 2020 was seen as a major achievement of US foreign policy.

Speaking of the United States’ role in facilitating the agreement, Israel’s ambassador Erden said “the fact that we have a very committed administration that sent a clear message” in support of the Jewish state and the Middle East. Speed ​​was important in the past.

According to Bahrain’s Ambassador Alrowai, the role of the United States in the future is essential.

“The United States plays a major role as a strategic partner,” he said. “The United States has an important role to play in the effort to work together on the historic Abraham Accords.”

For Morocco, which signed its agreement to normalize relations with Israel in December 2020, it was a renewal and upgrade of the previous relationship, which was established during the 1990s.

“We need a more active role from the United States in helping to secure future cooperation in this area,” said Hilale, the Moroccan ambassador.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has continued to support and work to expand the benefits of the Abrahamic Agreement, establishing joint teams with partner countries and identifying potential new countries, Arden said.

In March, the foreign ministers of the Abraham Accord countries and Egypt held the Negev summit in Israel to strengthen their ties with the US Secretary of State. They have initiated a process that will lead to consultations and regional multilateral working groups.

Ambassador Nusibeh welcomed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s participation in the Negev Summit and welcomed the continuation of US action.

“The primary perspective continues to be American engagement,” she said. “The United States is a privileged partner for the region. He is a longtime partner. »

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Domino Effect’

Earlier this year, in an interview with The Atlantic, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered a harsh reassessment of Saudi Arabia-Israel relations, saying that “we treat Israel not as an enemy, but as an ally.” see as potential”.

Indeed, there have been reports of secret contacts between Israel and the Saudis in recent years as both countries face a common security threat from Iran as well as interest in the stability of the Middle East region.

In July, President Joe Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia, where speculation about heating up relations between Jerusalem and Riyadh was front and center. The visit, Biden’s first visit to the Middle East since taking office, demonstrated that the United States is committed to improving security in the region by strengthening partnerships with allies.

Although no major announcements were made – such as a new normalization deal – the Saudis took the important step of adopting a new policy that opened their airspace to Israeli flights.

Additionally, Biden also signed the “Jerusalem Declaration”, which stated that the United States was “committed to building a strong regional architecture; deepening ties between Israel and all of its regional partners; over time.” advancing the territorial integration of Israel and expanding the realm of peace to include more Arab and Muslim states”.

peace dividend

The ambassadors said that the real benefits of the Abrahamic Agreement and their support by the people of each country are the keys to repeating this successful model in other Arab and predominantly Muslim states.

“This combination of psychological change and an economic outlook will make this peace more resilient,” Erden said. “When the fruits of this peace will come before the Muslim world, I am sure other countries will follow suit. And that’s why I’m so optimistic. ,
Ambassador Nusibeh said she sees the Abraham Accords as an agreement not only between the countries involved, but also “between Islam and Judaism”.

“If the tangible and practical benefits we see in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Israel are felt across a broad spectrum of Arab and Muslim countries, then the peace dividend is sold,” he said. he announced.

Similarly, Moroccan ambassador Hilale explained the unique history and connection between Morocco and the Jewish people dating back centuries. Israel is home to hundreds of thousands of Jews of Moroccan origin and a warm bond remains between the Moroccan Jewish community and the government.

“The Abraham Accords were not an end in themselves, but a trigger for a better Middle East,” he said.

Additionally, it is hoped that the agreements will increasingly engage the region’s youth – a broad demographic – and, through new openings and job opportunities, help the next generation move in a positive direction.

Ambassador Nusibeh said studies have suggested, “If we expand the scope of peace, we could add a trillion dollars over the next decade. Drive them away from the path of extremism.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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