On 15 September 2020, the covid-19 figures were not the first of the day. A fact was happening on Tuesday that left no one indifferent: at the White House, sitting at the same table, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now former U.S. President Donald Trump and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, signed the Abrahamic Agreements.
The historic Abrahamic Agreements sealed the normalization of diplomatic relations between the state of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The latter join, in this way, a group to which Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) belonged.
These agreements are also well-seen from Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
Reactions were immediate:
” Let’s overcome any political division. Let’s put all the cynicism aside. Let us feel on this day the pulse of history. When the pandemic is gone, the peace we make today will endure,” Netanyahu said.
“The pursuit of peace is an innate principle. However, principles are effectively carried out when they are transformed into action. Today we are already witnessing a change in the heart of the Middle East, a change that will send hope to everyone,” said Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
From the Democratic Party of the United States (now in government) dissenting voices emerged with these agreements: “What we run the risk of doing here is driving an arms race. Today we can sell the F-35s and MQ-9s to the UAE, but the Saudis are going to want it, the Qatari have already requested it, and that only fuels Iran’s interest in continuing to develop its own military programming,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy argued in December.
To understand a little more the impact and impact of these agreements, I wanted to share some reflections:
The importance of Abraham’s agreements
I consider the “historical” label to be accurate in describing the Abrahamic Agreements. Since its founding in 1948, Israel had only been able to establish diplomatic relations with two countries in the area (Egypt, 1979. Jordan, 1994). It’s taken 26 years to expand this reality. Today, it is no longer just four countries in the area that recognize Israel, this group has also been joined by Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
It is not difficult to project that trade, military and social relations between these countries will grow exponentially.
In my opinion, the AbrahamIc Agreements have prompted the creation of an exclusive club that would bring together countries from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, marking a path in the area completely different from what had been seen until now.
What does it mean for Israel?
Since the 1970s, Israel and the Gulf countries have tried to activate some kind of relationships. Political and military collaborations between Israel and some Arab countries are well known, but official recognition of these relations has never been achieved. Therefore, the AbrahamIc Agreements represent the culmination of years of work of Israeli diplomacy in its quest to improve its situation in the area.
Previously covert relations will now develop openly and directly between these countries.
At the political level, these agreements show significant progress in seeking stability in the area. Socially, these agreements reflect an understanding between two historically confronted religions; that is, the neighbors have understood that they have to get along yes or yes. Finally, economically, it is not difficult to intuit that Israel’s technological potential and the energy wealth (Oil) of Gulf countries can generate a highly successful and cost-effective combination.
Participating Arab countries
These agreements mean radical change in the Middle East. For decades, countries in the area had kept the State of Israel isolated. Currently, this scenario has changed and with the creation of this new block of allies, important instances can be generated to reduce instability in the area.
The Abrahamic Agreements will impact the Arab world, beyond the territories of the participating countries. These agreements mark an evolution not only in the Middle East, but in North Africa and Eastern Europe. Many analysts agree that it’s only a matter of time before more countries add up to this club.
In turn, it is becoming clear that the feeling of pan-Tantrum solidarity is in decline. Writer Ed Hussein has explained in several articles that Arab states, especially those in the Gulf, are beginning to create their own national profiles. In these new profiles, hatred of Israel and the Jews does not exist, it makes no room or meaning. They don’t need a unifying enemy.
In fact, the name chosen for the covenant, “Abraham’s Agreements,” conveys a strong symbolic message. Abraham as the common father of Jews and Arabs; societies that go from being enemies to sisters.
I believe that the Abrahamic Agreements do not change the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it does profoundly change forms. This dispute is no longer only a matter between two countries, but involves the entire Middle East. From Israel it has openly stated that the exit to the problem with Palestine is about improving relations with all countries in the area.
The board is changing. Not only is Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia pushing for these agreements, the Kingdom of Morocco, which chairs the Al-Quods committee, has also joined this new diplomatic scenario.
In general, these Arab countries have found that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes through an understanding: recognizing the State of Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as a multicultural international capital, fostering a real ceasefire that allows religions and cultures to interact.
The key to these agreements is coexistence.
For example, in order to achieve the signing of these agreements, Israel has promised the United Arab Emirates that no land from the West Bank will be formally annexed.”
Will other countries join?
For the time being, the Abrahamic Agreements have been signed by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Morocco; there has also been a rapprochement between countries such as Sudan and Oman. Regardless of the reactions, these agreements will chart the future of the region.
Just as in the last century we saw the birth of clubs such as the European Union or Nato, today we will see the emergence of the Abrahamic Agreements club, which can bring about profound changes in Asia, Europe and Africa, especially on issues of coexistence.
Religious, economic and social coexistence.
Europe and the Abrahamic Agreements
Europe is obliged to frame itself in a profile. The United States has won a major diplomatic battle by becoming the mediator who managed to sign these agreements.
Historically, the events of the Middle East impact Europe. It is therefore critical that a strong profile be generated that also supports the resolutions of these agreements. Europe has a lot of experience in diplomatic and political, social and economic relations; therefore, it could play a very important role, through a direct accompaniment to this club.
While these agreements were developed by the Trump Administration, which did not handle the best relations with the region, today Europe has the opportunity (taking advantage of a new administration being in charge of the US government) to support the Abrahamic Agreements and play online with what is being done right now.
What does this agreement represent for the future of the world?
The Abrahamic Agreements are the future. The change you’re bringing in is indisputable. At the international level, most major historical conflicts have been the product of political, social, religious, economic differences… and today we live in a world that understands that war is a waste and a reality (painful) very difficult to sustain.
Based on these phenomena, the AbrahamIc Agreements are creating a platform capable of sustaining socio-economic and geopolitical change, not counting the exemplaryness it means for future international agreements.
For no one is a secret the power that Israel and the Gulf countries possess; an alliance can be a push for the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
The first caveat is obvious: we must set aside the religious theme from the discussion.
You cannot mix a political and economic agreement with religious issues. Abraham’s Agreements rely more on the first and second than on the third. Peace between Israel and Arab countries will lead to a significant exchange of investment, strategies and know-how. This opportunity can translate into growth and improvements in the quality of life of these societies.
A second warning: Israel has to make sure that its political changes do not affect the continuity of the agreements.
Third, all countries participating in these agreements must effectively communicate why they are doing what they are doing. Israel and Arab countries must explain very clearly that these agreements are coming to an end year of struggle.
Muslim societies should see these agreements as an opportunity to live together in peace and stability, not as a defeat. Conflict will always be a step backwards; peace is a step forward.
Morocco is joining a very relevant initiative that also provides direct benefits. In negotiations with the United States, they have managed to get the White House to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara; in return, Rabat has signed the Abrahamic Agreements and thus recognizes Israel as an independent state, allowing it to sign economic and cooperation agreements.
Morocco’s readiness is also consistent with a social feeling. Historically, the Moroccan community has been close to Jewish; Morocco has welcomed many Jews during complex periods in its history.
Global business and investment hubs are shifting and large economic hubs are getting closer to the Mediterranean. With the Abrahamic Agreements, Mallorca lost as a liaison platform between Morocco and Israel, as for many years all Israeli flights made a stopover in Mallorca to depart for Morocco. With the restoration of relations, Telaviv’s flights go directly to Morocco. Will Mallorca be able to take advantage of the new situation in the Mediterranean to become a strategic and commercial platform?
The Abrahamic Agreements continue to leave gray areas. The most complex aspect is in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has brought repeated criticism from different communities.
However, I agree with David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for the Middle East and Daniel Shapiro, Obama’s ambassador to Israel, who explained in an article published in The Washington Post: “History and common-sense show that Arab states that maintain diplomatic relations with Israel play a more active role in supporting Palestinian aspirations than those who do not”.
The forms of the Israel-Palestine conflict have definitely changed and it will be essential to adjust to the new scenarios.
On the other hand, there is a lot of expectation about Joe Biden’s upcoming foreign policy decisions. Biden disagreed with almost all measures taken by the Trump Administration; however, many analysts believe that, despite public rejection of certain factions of the Democratic party, the new president of the United States will revoke these agreements.
From this, I agree with Jay Solomon of the Washington Institute for the Middle East, who suggests that Biden should not dismantle the Abrahamic Agreements, but build from them. “Successive U.S. administrations, for more than 70 years, have made Israel’s integration into the Middle East a cornerstone of foreign policy. Now that it’s happening, Washington shouldn’t be a barrier to its expansion, but an agent of improvement and expansion. President-elect Biden has a unique position to shape this new Middle East in a way that best aligns with America’s interests,” he concludes.