August 13, 2020, marked a huge day for the State of Israel. For the first time since the landmark 1994 agreement with Jordan, Israel announced a new peace deal. This normalization of relations with the United Arab Emirates, an agreement known as the Abraham Accord, is monumental and transformative, and it brings with it a renewed sense of hope.
Israel’s previous peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan involved “land for peace,” language that was created after the 1967 war, when Israel took control of Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. The agreement announced last week with the UAE did not involve “land for peace.” It merely required that Israel not do something at the current time (annex the West Bank).
The deal could have an immense ripple effect for the region and for future peace negotiations. Already, there are rumblings that more Arab nations are working with Israel on peace deals, and the question now seems to be not if they will occur, but with whom – Sudan, Bahrain, or others.
Israel, the eternal home of the Jewish people, is more secure because of this treaty. The growing threat to the region posed by Iran has made Israel a preferred partner for many Arab states, and this bodes well for the future of Israel. The Palestinian issue remains unresolved – and it must be worked out to ensure long-term stability – but the public stance of the UAE and others to come has changed the dynamic in regard to Israel. The legitimacy of the existence of Israel by the Arab states is changing.
Fittingly, this week’s In Focus lecture for our community by Professor Ken Stein was to focus on why peace isn’t working. Instead, we had a chance to talk about why peace worked in this case and what it will take for Israel to secure peace with the Palestinians and others. The final session of the In Focus series is Tuesday at 7 pm, and I encourage you to register and attend.
For more information about the impact of this treaty, you can read Professor Stein’s post on the Center for Israel Education website. For a great read on the impact of the Israel-UAE agreement on the Palestinian peace process, I suggest Jonathan Schachter and Jonathan Schanzer’s Jerusalem Post article.
In this era of COVID and almost daily headlines about everything that’s wrong in the world, it’s refreshing to see news that provides a sense of hope. The Abraham Accord certainly does that.