Abraham Accords: What are the Israel-UAE and Israel-Bahrain Peace Agreements?
The Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization agreement, officially known as Abraham Accords, was initially agreed to in a joint statement by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 13 August 2020. Another normalization agreement was agreed between Bahrain and Israel, mediated by the USA on 11 September 2020.
The Abraham Accords were signed at White House on 15 September 2020 by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Abraham Accords were negotiated by Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz.
At the signing of the agreement, former US President Donald Trump stated that five other nations could follow. On 23 September 2020, US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft stated that a new country will recognize Israel in the next one or two days.
The name Abraham is to honour the patriarch of three major Abrahamic religions of the world-- Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
How the Abraham Accords were inked and what happened so far?
After the announcement of the peace deal
On 13 August 2021, Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, UAE, announced the agreement to normalize relations with Israel. He stated the annexation of Palestinian territories and urged the Palestinians and Israelis to return to the negotiating table. he further stated that there will be no Embassy in Jerusalem until a final agreement is signed between Palestine and Israel.
According to former US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalize their diplomatic relations. They will exchange embassies and ambassadors and begin cooperation across the board and on a broad range of areas including tourism, education, healthcare, trade and security."
Also, a joint statement was released by Trump, Netanyahu and Zayed that the diplomatic ties will advance peace and unlock the great potential in the Middle East region.
The UAE stated that it will continue extending its support to the Palestinian and advocate a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, even after signing the agreement. On the other hand, Israel stated that it has frozen the Jordan Valley claim for the time being but it is still on the agenda.
On 16 August 2020, Israel and the UAE inaugurated direct telephone services. UAE's APEX National Investment and Israel's Tera Group inked an agreement to partner in research on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the first business deal signed between the companies of the two nations after the normalization of ties.
On 18 August 2020, the director of the Mossad Yossi Cohen arrived in the UAE and discussed security cooperation, regional developments and more with the National Security Advisor Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan. On 29 August 2020, UAE formally ended its boycott of Israel.
On 26 August 2020, Bahrain, the first Gulf Arab country to comment in support of the peace deal, remained committed to the creation of a Palestinian state and rejected the normalization of ties with Israel. However, the country later agreed to the normalization of ties with Israel, which was announced by former US President Donald Trump on 11 September 2021.
On 28 August 2020, an EI AI spokesman announced that the company will operate El Al 971 which will be the first-ever commercial flight between Israel and the UAE, from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport towards Abu Dhabi. Saudi Arabia allowed the flight to fly directly towards UAE using its airspace. The flight landed at Abu Dhabi International Airport and carried a delegation of American and Israeli officials. The word 'Peace' was painted in Hebrew, Arabic and English languages above the cockpit window of the plane. Later, both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain permanently opened their airspace for flights between Israel and the UAE.
Post signing of the Abraham Accords
On 12 October 2020, the first cargo ship from the UAE entered Israel at the Port of Haifa.
On 3 September 2020, Habtoor Hospitality became the first Emirati hotel group to start serving kosher food as part of its menu. On 17 September 2020, the UAE's first kosher-certified restaurant called "Armani/Kaf" was opened and is located in Burj Khalifa.
In December 2020, a delegation from the UAE and Bahrain visited Israel as part of the normalization process and cultural exchange. They held a meeting with Israel President Reuven Rivlin.
In January 2021, a collaborative event was organized by Tel Aviv International Salon, Sharaka and OurCrowd to attain 'business of peace' between the Gulf Countries and Israel.
In March 2021, Bahrain appointed its first-ever ambassador to Israel, Khaled Yousif Al-Jalahma.
During 23-25 March 2021, a virtual hackathon event was organized by Israel-is, having participants from the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Israel.
Another event was organised on 27 March 2021, to commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day, having participants from the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.
In honour of the Abraham Accords, the first-ever Rugby match was played between Israel and UAE in March 2021.
Other countries which entered into a peace agreement with Israel
On 23 October 2020, Sudan formally agreed to normalize ties with Israel and join the broader diplomatic realignment in the Middle East, a deal brokered by the former US President Trump. In January 2021, Israel–Sudan normalization agreement was inked and the US completed its promise of removing Sudan from the list of countries supporting terrorism. The US also reaffirmed its previous commitment to provide a bridge loan to clear Sudan's arrears to the World Bank and access $1 billion in annual funding. On 6 April 2021, the Cabinet of Sudan repealed a law from 1958 which prohibited diplomatic and business relations with Israel.
On 10 December 2020, Israel and Morocco agreed to normalize their relations with the US recognizing Morocco's claim over Western Sahara. On 22 December 2020, Israel–Morocco normalization agreement was inked. The agreement mentions the beginning of direct flights, promotion of economic cooperation, reopening liaison offices and full diplomatic, peaceful and friendly relations between the two nations.
It is to be noted that Oman postponed the normalization of ties with Israel until after the U.S. presidential election. On 11 February 2021, Oman Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi stated, "As regards Israel we are content so far with the level of our current relations and dialogue, which involves the appropriate channels of communication." He further added that Oman is committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.
Abraham Accords and the present-day scenario
Over the past few weeks, tensions between Israel and Palestine have escalated over Al Aqsa violence and Sheikh Jarrah exodus. Sirens wailed in Israel as rockets were launched from Gaza. Israel retaliated and pummeled areas in Gaza. A 12-story building that housed international media such as the Associated Press and Al Jazeera was demolished in an airstrike by Israel.
A one-hour warning was issued to the journalists and other people to clear the building. Israel asserted that the building was used as a clandestine hub by Hamas and other Palestinian militants. However, no pieces of evidence were provided by Israel to substantiate its claims.
Eight months into the Abraham Accord, the UAE urged Israel to stop Jerusalem violence in rare reproach. The Emiratis have shared videos and photos, denouncing the occupation and Israeli forces brutality. Demonstrations are being staged regularly in Bahrain in support of Palestine. Morocco as well as Sudan have also condemned Israeli violence over Palestine.
The signatories of the Abraham Accords chose cooperation over conflict, friendship over enmity, prosperity over poverty, and hope over despair. They chose a future in which Arabs and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians can live together, pray together, and dream together, side by side, in harmony, community, and peace. This, however, seems to fade away with the rising escalation between Israel and Palestine.
Significance of the Abraham Accords
1- The inking of the Abraham Accords indicated how Arab countries decoupled themselves from the Palestinian state commitment.
2- Full diplomatic ties were established between Israel-UAE and Israel-Bahrain.
3- Other gulf states followed the suit and signed similar peace agreements with Israel.
In the year 1971, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of UAE referred to Israel as 'the enemy'. In the year 2015, Israel announced its plan to open a diplomatic office in the UAE. In August 2019, amid the rising tensions with Iran, Israel announced a military declaration with the UAE.