Abraham Accords

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President Trump and The First Lady Participate in an Abraham Accords Signing Ceremony (50345629858).jpg
A map of Israel (blue), the United Arab Emirates (red) and Bahrain (orange).
At top, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump at the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords and bottom, a map of Israel (blue), the United Arab Emirates (red) and Bahrain (orange)

The Abraham Accords are a joint statement between State of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America, reached on August 13, 2020.[1] Subsequently, the term was used to refer collectively to agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (the Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement) and Bahrain, respectively (the Bahrain–Israel normalization agreement).[2]

The statement marked the first public normalization of relations between an Arab country and Israel since that of Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. The original Abraham Accords were signed by the Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. President Donald Trump on September 15, 2020, at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.[3] The Accords were negotiated by Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz.[4]

The agreement with the UAE was officially titled the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel.[5][6] The agreement between Bahrain and Israel was officially titled the Abraham Accords: Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations, and was announced by the United States on September 11, 2020.[5]

The accords are named after Abraham to emphasize the shared origin of belief between Judaism and Islam, both of which are Abrahamic religions that strictly espouse the monotheistic worship of the God of Abraham.[7]

Background and negotiations[edit]

The Accords were negotiated by Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz.[4] On January 28, 2020, the Trump Administration unveiled its Israeli - Palestinian peace proposal in a ceremony at the White House.[8] A component of the plan envisioned applying Israeli law or annexation to roughly 30% of the West Bank. On June 12, 2020, UAE Ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba authored an op-ed in an effort to halt Israel's planned annexation of West Bank territory.[9] Otaiba's op-ed was addressed to the Israeli public and published on the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth.[10] The White House had reservations about annexation as well, which Berkowitz discussed with Netanyahu in meetings in Israel over three days in late June, 2020.[11] In the meetings Berkowitz proposed an alternative to annexation, normalization with the United Arab Emirates. [12]

On July 2, 2020, Otaiba met with Berkowitz to further discuss an alternative plan to annexation.[13] Along with a mutual interest in creating a unified front against the opposing forces of Iran, the concerns detailed in Otaiba's op-ed and planning with Jared Kushner and Berkowitz helped bring vested parties to the negotiating table to identify an alternative solution,[13] ultimately resulting in a normalization agreement reached in August 2020.[14] As a component of the deal annexation was postponed. [15] Hours after the August 13 announcement of the U.S.-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, senior Bahraini officials called President Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner and Berkowitz with a message: "We want to be next”. [16] Over the next 29 days Kushner and Berkowitz negotiated, and traveled to Bahrain, before closing the deal on September 11, 2020 in a call between Trump, Netanyahu and the king of Bahrain. [17] All three countries officially committed to the deals on September 15, 2020 with the signing of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House.[18]

On October 23, 2020 Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize ties, making Sudan the third Arab country to set aside hostilities in two months. [19] The agreement was negotiated on the U.S. side by Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security official Miguel Correa.[20]

On December 10, 2020, President Trump announced that Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco agreed to establish full diplomatic relations.[21] The agreement was negotiated by Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and marked Kushner and Berkowitz's fourth normalization agreement in as many months.[22] As a component of the deal, the United States agreed to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.[23]

On March 1, 2021, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo credited the 2019 Warsaw Conference with providing the breakthrough that paved the way.[24] A goal of the two-day conference was to focus on countering Iran, although the host nation tried to play down that theme and the closing Polish-US statement did not mention Iran.[25]

Among the representatives of the 70 nations in attendance were a number of Arab officials, creating the first situation since the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991 where an Israeli leader and senior Arab officials were all in attendance at the same international conference focused on the Middle East. The Madrid Conference at the time set the stage for the Oslo Accords. Among those with whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met was the Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah—whose country he had visited in October 2018. Two days after Netanyahu's visit at the time, bin Alawi suggested while at a conference in Bahrain that it was time for Israel to be treated like the other states in the Middle East, and the officials of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia did not disagree.[26]

Documents[edit]

Abraham Accords Declaration

The documents related to the Abraham Accords are as follows:

Name Official name Date Signatories Full text
Declaration The Abraham Accords Declaration 15 September 2020 United States, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain [27]
Israel–UAE Agreement Abraham Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel 15 September 2020 Israel, United Arab Emirates, United States (witness) [28]
Bahrain–Israel Agreement Abraham Accords: Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations 15 September 2020 Bahrain, Israel, United States (witness) [29]

Aftermath[edit]

At the signing, U.S. President Donald Trump said five nations could soon follow, including Saudi Arabia, although analysts believed that Sudan and Oman were more likely candidates in the short term.[30] On September 23, 2020, US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said that a new country would recognize Israel "in the next day or two."[31]

On February 2, 2021, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that "the United States will continue to urge other countries to normalize relations with Israel." and that normalization is "not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace... We hope that Israel and other countries in the region join together in a common effort to build bridges and... contribute to tangible progress towards the goal of advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians."[32]

On 26 March 2021, a group of 18 U.S. senators introduced a bill to aid the State Department in developing appropriate strategy “to strengthen and expand the Abraham Accords and other related normalization agreements with Israel.”[33]

According to The Jewish Press, on 1 April 2021, State Department spokesman Ned Price was asked by a reporter to use the name Abraham Accords, declined to do so and repeatedly preferred to use the term “normalization agreements.”[34] According to Axios reporting on March 10, 2021, "The Biden administration wants to continue a process that began under Trump while securing achievements of its own through new deals." and "...is also not enthusiastic about Trump's name for the agreements: the “Abraham Accords.” The White House and State Department prefer to discuss “the normalization process."[35][36]

A 2021 paper analyzing the UAE-Israel normalization argues that it results from pressures at the domestic and systemic levels, but the dynamics at play in the Middle East regional security complex are ultimately more important factors in explaining normalization.[37]


Sudan[edit]

On September 26, 2020, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said that Sudan did not want to link its removal from a US terrorism list to normalizing relations with Israel, as asked for by the US.[38]

On October 23, 2020, Sudan formally agreed to normalize ties with Israel and join the broader diplomatic realignment in the Middle East[39][40] in a deal brokered from the Oval Office by the United States and President Trump.[41] Israel and Sudan leaders originally agreed to move towards normalization after a February 2020 meeting in Uganda and accelerated a deal following normalization announcements between Israel and UAE.[42] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, "This is a new era. An era of true peace. A peace that is expanding with other Arab countries—three of them in recent weeks".[39] The United States agreed to remove Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, lifting coinciding economic sanctions and agreed to advance discussions on debt forgiveness.[40] Denying any wrongdoing, Sudan agreed to pay 335 million U.S. dollars in compensation to American victims of terror.[40] In a tweet from his official Twitter account, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok thanked Mr. Trump for signing the executive order removing his country from the list of state sponsors of terrorism but didn't mention the deal with Israel.[39]

In January 2021, Sudan signed the declaration, with the US completing a promise of removing the country from the list of countries supporting terrorism and reaffirming a previous commitment to provide a bridge loan to clear the country's arrears to the World Bank and access $1 billion in annual funding.[43] On April 6, 2021, the Cabinet of Sudan approved legislation repealing a law from 1958 which had prohibited diplomatic and business relations with Israel.[44]

Morocco[edit]

In December 2020, Israel and Morocco agreed to normalize their relations in the Israel–Morocco normalization agreement, with the United States recognizing Morocco's claim over Western Sahara.[45] The agreement would later prove a factor in the rupture of relations between Morocco and Algeria.[46]

Oman[edit]

Oman postponed a decision to normalize ties with Israel until after the U.S. presidential election, which happened on November 3, 2020.[47] On February 11, 2021, Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi said “As regards Israel we are content so far with the level of our current relations and dialogue, which involves the appropriate channels of communication," adding that Oman was "committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution."[48]

Bahrain[edit]

After the signing of Abraham Accords, Bahrain appointed Khaled Yousif Al-Jalahma as the first-ever ambassador from Bahrain to Israel on the 30th March 2021.[49]

Economic impact[edit]

While Israel and the UAE had long-maintained de facto recognition in areas of business including the diamond trade,[50] and high tech industries including artificial intelligence[51] and defence,[52] the accord opened the door to a much wider range of economic cooperation, including formal investments.

Abu Dhabi Investment Office opened its first overseas branch in Israel.[53] A number of kosher restaurants were opened in the UAE to cater to Jewish visitors.[54]

Environmental impact[edit]

On 14 August 2021, the Associated Press reported that a secret oil deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, struck in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords, has turned the Israeli resort of Eilat into a waypoint for Emirati oil headed for Western markets. It was expected to endanger the Red Sea reefs, which host some of the greatest coral diversity on the planet. As Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia also share the gulf’s waters, an ecological disaster was likely to impact their ecosystems.[55]

Collaborative efforts[edit]

In mid-December 2020, a delegation from the UAE and Bahrain visited Israel with the aim of cultural exchange as part of the normalization process. The delegations held a meeting with Israel President Reuven Rivlin.[56] In January 2021, a collaborative event was organized by Tel Aviv International Salon, Sharaka and OurCrowd with the objective to attain 'business of peace' between the Gulf Countries and the state of Israel.[57][58]

From March 23–25, 2021, a virtual hackathon event was organized by Israel-is, which garnered participants from the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco as well as Israel.[59] Then on 27 March 2021, an event was organized to commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day, which again saw participation from the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, as well as Saudi Arabia.[60][61]

March 2021 also saw the Israel and UAE national rugby teams play their first-ever match, in honor of the Abraham Accords.[62]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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