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The Abraham Accords: “Peace for Peace”

Goodbye Trump

Demonstrators storm the US Capitol Building, January 6 2020.

With just two days left for President Trump’s tenure to end, 20th January hopefully marks the end of what has been a chaotic, polarized, and horrid few months in the United States. The tension around the controversial elections and the rhetoric of Trump’s supporters morphed into an insurrection with right-wing extremists storming the Capitol building on January 6th, 2020. Under federal law, Congress must meet on 6th January to validate the election result by counting the electoral votes. The Vice President presides over the session and officially declares the winner after they complete the counting. Demonstrators stormed into the Capitol building, which disrupted Congress proceedings, and the clash with the Capitol Police resulted in the deaths of law enforcement personnel and protestors. The pandemic and political fervor ravaging the US and the world at large resulted in the sidelining of an occurrence of significant consequence to the peace and future of the Middle East: The Abraham Accords. Although these Accords garnered a tepid response from the international media, this agreement between Israel and two Gulf Nations - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Bahrain marks the beginning of a new chapter for Arab-Israeli politics.

The Abraham Accords

(From L-R) Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed during the Peace Accord signing ceremony in the White House.

The Abraham accords are a series of agreements and joint statements between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and the UAE, with the United States acting as the mediator of this agreement. The accords were officially signed in the White House on September 15th, 2020. The accords signify the official normalization of relations between Israel and the two Gulf countries. UAE became the third Arab country after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to formally normalize its relationship with Israel. Bahrain followed suit and became the fourth Arab country to recognize the state of Israel.

The agreement between UAE and Israel was signed a month before (August 15th) the agreement between Israel and Bahrain, but both these agreements were collectively signed on September 15th at the White House. Before the agreement between Israel and the UAE, there was no official relationship between the two nations, but informal trade channels to conduct business and unofficial communication was active. Before normalization, the UAE did not allow Israeli citizens or passport holders entry into the country, except for transit. There were no direct flights between the two countries. Although there was no restriction for UAE citizens to visit Israel, the UAE government barred its citizens from visiting Israel.

After the agreement between UAE and Israel was signed, the UAE for the first-time established telephone links by unblocking Israel’s +972 country code to allow for direct communication. The first direct commercial flight from Israel to the UAE flew on 31st August 2020, and the first cargo ship from the UAE entered Israel’s port of Haifa on October 12th, 2020. Many kosher restaurants were opened in the UAE to serve the expected influx of people from Israel.

First Israeli commercial flight to the UAE takes to the skies.

The agreement between Israel and Bahrain also called for the establishment of flights between Tel Aviv and Manama. The two states also agreed to exchange ambassadors and open embassies in each country and begin working together in areas of technology, health and agriculture. Most countries welcomed the normalization of the relationship between the Jewish State and the two gulf nations baring Palestine, Iran and Turkey, entities having a lot to lose because of the agreement.

Key Players and Benefits