The escalating Israel-Hamas war means that the Abraham Accords between Israel and two former enemies in the Middle East “are needed now more than ever,” Jared Kushner said in a post last week on social media.
Kushner should know.
As a top White House aide as well as son-in-law to then-President Donald Trump, Kushner was instrumental in achieving the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and between Israel and Bahrain.
Trump institutionalized the Abraham Accords in September 2020, just over three years ago. Now, the despicable Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, which was sponsored by Iran through its proxy Hamas and left some 1,400 Israelis dead, reaffirms the necessity that the U.S. and Israel remain as united as possible.
As the Israeli military’s response to Hamas’ surprise attack unfolds, America’s enduring, resilient economic bond with Israel matters to a critical degree. From a broader policy perspective, the Abraham Accords offer unambiguously relevant dimensions of that critical U.S.-Israel relationship.
In an indication that the Abraham Accords actually have improved the geopolitical dynamic in the Middle East region, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain both condemned Hamas’ attack on Israel.
Last week, Bahraini Finance Minister Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa al-Khalifa offered some encouraging words, saying:
It’s extremely important for the future of this region that we continue to build bridges, and the future of this region and its stability and security is built on providing opportunity for all, and that is what will underpin a secure, safe region in which we are delivering prosperity for all, and delivering hope and opportunity.
Echoing that sentiment was Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee of the United Arab Emirates Federal National Council, who also emphasized “the need to differentiate between Hamas and the Palestinian people.”
The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday that Nuaimi said:
From the United Arab Emirates perspective, the Abraham Accords are there to stay. …The accords are our future. It is not an agreement between two governments but a platform that we believe should transform the region where everyone will enjoy security, stability, and prosperity.
Indeed, since their inception in 2020, the Abraham Accords have yielded concrete forward steps. The agreements (between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain) unambiguously marked the beginning of a transformative, constructive chapter for a region that will continue to be vital to America’s interests on security and economic dimensions.
For the first time ever, Israel’s president made visits to the UAE and Bahrain, while trade and investment among the three nations expanded at an impressive rate.
Paving the way for previously impossible Israeli-Arab cooperation as well as increased economic interaction with the United States, the accords have been shifting the geopolitical direction toward a better and greater future in the region.
Clearly, now is not the time to discount that critical, evolving process of the Abraham Accords or to abandon commitment to the accords. The agreements had raised the real prospects of peace and stability in the region to the highest point in many decades.
Selling short the accords at this critical juncture would be an immensely regrettable misstep in the long run. Abandoning the accords also wouldn’t help Palestinians in Gaza, which Hamas governs. In fact, it would do the exact opposite, driving the Palestinian people to another trap of corrupt and oppressive governance that thrives only by ensuring that peace fails.
The unprecedented and unprovoked attack on Israel by Hamas posed a critical test for America and for the Abraham Accords. Standing united with Israel, the UAE and Bahrain must pass the test.
Robert Greenway, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, stressed the imperative of expanding the Abraham Accords during his testimony in March to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Greenway testified:
The alignment of our regional partners and allies in both economic and security domains will ensure that the agreement endures. It will also incentivize others to join us in pooling critical capacities to advance and defend mutual interests. This transformation serves to constrain the malign influence of Iran and Russia, and predatory practices of China. If we fail to take advantage of the favorable shift in the region’s security and economic architecture, such countries will continue to manufacture and exploit fissures among the U.S. and its regional partners.
Greenway’s House testimony suggests that Congress may be the key to keeping the spirit of the Abraham Accords alive. His keen observations remain powerfully applicable seven months later.
Indeed, the Abraham Accords matter more than ever in the aftermath of Hamas’ terrorist massacres and kidnappings. Now is the time to uphold their renewed importance.
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