Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords, which established normal relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, followed by Sudan and Morocco. It was a breathtaking turn of events that has caused positive ripples among Israel’s many neighbors, even though no additional countries have come on board.
Relations between Israel and the UAE have become particularly warm. “Israel, Emirates strive for warm, vibrant, profitable peace,” read a recent headline, and it reflects the impressive strides the two countries have made. There are now daily nonstop flights between Israel and Dubai and Abu Dhabi. And just recently, UAE’s economy minister, Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, said that his country wants to expand economic ties with Israel to more than $1 trillion over the next decade.
The Abraham Accords have also given a positive boost to Israel’s frosty relations with Egypt. Their peace treaty, signed in 1979, has never been popular in the Egyptian streets, and while the two countries have an active level of military cooperation, Israel’s public presence in Egypt is limited. Even so, the Sept. 13 meeting Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt reflected a very different tone. That meeting was the first public visit of an Israeli prime minister to Egypt in more than a decade. When Bennett arrived, the Egyptian foreign minister greeted him on the tarmac. The meeting itself included the public display of the Israeli flag, and the Egyptian state media carried footage from the meeting.
At an event to celebrate the anniversary of the Abraham Accords, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Biden administration will continue working to expand ties between Israel and Arab countries, including efforts to encourage more countries to join the Abraham Accords. On this point, all eyes are on Saudi Arabia, which has praised the accords, continues to align with Israel against their common enemy, Iran, but has yet to normalize relations.
Beyond the excitement and significant success of the Abraham Accords, the ripple effect of improved relations with Israel in a sizeable portion of the Arab world is worth noting. Those who recall the bitter references to “the Zionist entity” rather than “Israel,” the hate-filled slogan “Zionism is racism,” and the unforgiving victimization of the coordinated Arab boycott, understand how successful Israel has been in helping to change the international discussion of delegitimization. It was during this month in 1967 that Arab leaders met in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, and issued their “Three No’s”: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.” A lot has changed since then, and it’s for the better.
We applaud the progress and the moves toward normalization. For the coming year, we look forward to Israel expanding and deepening its economic, security and people-to-people relations with more and more of its neighbors.