A year of Trump's Abraham Accords...but Biden says don't call them that
A year ago today, on September 15, 2020, Israeli then–prime minister Binyamin (Benjamin) Netanyahu, Bahrain foreign minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani and United Arab Emirates (UAE) foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan stood on the front lawn of the White House with U.S. then-president Donald J. Trump (R) and signed the Abraham Accords. The Abraham Accords, named for Abraham (Avraham in Hebrew), who, with his wife Sarah, fathered Isaac (Yitzhak in Hebrew), the ancestor of the Jews, and, with Sarah's maid Hagar, fathered Ishmael, the ancestor of the Arabs, honored the two peoples' now remote common heritage. (And no, no scandal involved with Abraham; this arrangement was acceptable then legally, if not emotionally.)
How are the Abraham Accords functioning a year later? Unlike the highly lauded, now practically dead Camp David Accords, signed on the same White House front lawn 28 years ago between Israel and the so-called Palestinians with Yasser Arafat, brokered by President Bill Clinton (D), the answer seems to be fairly well. A few months after the signing, Morocco added its official approval, agreeing to mutual embassy openings and mutual full diplomatic relations. Although Sudan has since held back, not finalizing the deal, the Sudanese also agreed a few months later and voilà! lost their designation as a terrorist state. Israel and Bahrain signed a trade deal and initiated direct flights between their respective countries. And more.
So the Israeli Jews and the Sunni Muslim Abraham Accord–signers are making progress. But! Sigh — there always seems to be a but when discussing the Democratic Biden administration's attitudes and actions toward anything associated with Donald J. Trump (R). There have been...uh...changes. Bumps. Some are unbelievably petty, such as canceling the name Abraham Accords because it evokes Trump!
According to Jeff Dunetz's analysis on his The Lid blog:
To make the deals the Trump administration mediated were the product of thinking outside of the box. The Biden Administration has crawled back into the box.
The peace deals that team Trump moderated took a totally different approach. Unlike previous administrations (both Democratic and Republican), the deals did not involve "land for peace," only "peace for peace." The supposed peace experts of previous administrations had always bloviated that no Arab country would ever formalize ties with Israel before a Palestinian state was created—the Trump team proved them wrong. ...
The bottom line is that Donald Trump had a strategy for Arab/Israel peace that was actually working. It stopped when Biden became president because of the belief that everything Trump accomplished was bad. Instead, they went back to the old ways that didn't work. Particularly, before Israel makes peace with any Arab countries, it must first make peace with the Palestinian Authority. And they believe Israel should be the only party making concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians. In other words, thanks to Biden and his team, the Abraham Accords will not expand to other countries and build to a full Middle East peace.
Meanwhile, doing their best to salvage what they can:
The UN ambassadors of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco marked the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords at a New York event on Monday, highlighting the swift development of ties between their countries since the normalization agreements were inked.
Hosted by the Israeli Mission to the UN at Manhattan's Museum of Jewish Heritage, the event was attended by envoys from several other countries, including Oman's deputy ambassador to the UN Ahmed Dawood Ali Al Zadjal, whose country does not have official diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. (snip)
Arguably the event's highest-ranking official was US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Speaking after her four colleagues, the envoy praised the Abraham Accords participants for transforming "ink on a page to concrete improvements between countries."
Like most Biden officials, she refrained from referring to the agreements as the "Abraham Accords," in an apparent effort to distance herself from the Trump administration-coined term. ...
Thomas-Greenfield did not provide any details for how the administration plans to go about advancing those goals, and US President Joe Biden hasn't appointed a specific envoy to spearhead the issue, as was the case under Trump. ...
Moreover, the current administration's lack of enthusiasm regarding the sweetened deals the former president was willing to offer to potential Abraham Accords partners — like the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region, or billions in debt relief for Sudan — indicates that it won't be willing to go as far as may be necessary to coax other reluctant Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel.
But. The destructive partisanship continued last night, when Jared Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter, hosted an anniversary celebratory event under the auspices of his newly established Abraham Accords Peace Institute. Acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs was the highest U.S. official to attend and was "proud" to be in attendance.
Separately on Tuesday, the US State Department announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will on Friday host an event marking the Abraham Accords anniversary, using the Trump team-coined term to describe the initiative. Blinken will be joined virtually by the foreign ministers of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco "and discuss ways to further deepen ties and build a more prosperous region," a State Department spokesperson said.
Well, OK, that sounds good. But. Blinken also wants to include the "Palestinians," whose rallying cry is "death to Israel." Nothing to discuss for the Israelis. No buts there. But the Biden administration is talking about reviving the Iran nuclear deal. But Israel's new Sunni Muslim Arab partners are also opposed to Shiite Muslim Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
Hopefully the Israelis and their new Arab partners can build on their blossoming relationship, strengthening it.
But...we shall see.
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