The Abraham Accords face challenges ahead

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Meir Ben-Shabbat | Israel Hayom via JNS

It is essential that we bolster and expand normalization, while preventing Iran from sabotaging it.

As we celebrate the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords, we can look back with immense satisfaction at the rapid progress in relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco. The accords have managed to overcome the thorny challenges posed by Israel’s political and security situation, and their very existence has now become part of our daily lives.

Moreover, the inherent potential of the accords is far from being fully exhausted, and has actually grown due to the warming of relations with Turkey and emerging global economic challenges.

It is essential, however, that we invest serious effort in bolstering and expanding the framework of the Abraham Accords, while doing our utmost to prevent Iran from wielding its negative influence to
sabotage them.

In addition to security-related activity and the economic progress being made, policymakers in Israel would do well to consider the following steps:

First, expanding the circle of peace-supporting countries involved. It is important to invite Sudan and Chad — which was unjustly left out of the accords — to participate in all forums and working groups. It is important that they too enjoy the fruits of peace and benefit from their decision to normalize relations with Israel. This will also serve to encourage additional countries to join. If it does not take place, it could result in negative momentum or even withdrawal from the agreements.

Second, recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara. Although Israel provided no outright commitment to do this, there is clear expectation of it in Rabat, especially after the U.S. and others recognized Morocco’s claim.

Third, the opening of an overland trade route via or from Israel to the Gulf states. Such a route would be considerably more efficient and less expensive than those currently in use.

It would yield significant economic profits for regional states, as well as the European Union, which would benefit from using it to import and export vehicles. This would be a tremendous boost to trade among the member countries of the Abraham Accords, while
also contributing to the global economy.

Fourth, expediting joint ventures for marketing solutions to globally urgent problems in the fields of energy, food and water, while exploiting the relative advantages of Israel and the Gulf states.

Fifth, expanding educational and cultural initiatives to reinforce deeply-entrenched attitudes in favor of peace and weaken separatist approaches and radical Islamic ideas. This is critical to establishing peace at the popular level, between citizens and peoples, rather than just between states and governments.

Who said making peace was easy? Signing treaties is always a festive occasion that uplifts the spirit, filling us with joy and optimism. However, just as with a marriage, the wedding ceremony is only the start. The main task lies in the days and years ahead.

In order to build a life together, we must realize that we cannot take peace for granted. It requires effort, investment, initiative, creativity and constant innovation. Every success along the way bolsters faith in the partnership together with the belief that this is indeed the right way ahead. Common experiences add emotion and inject new, vital energy into the process.

Despite political fluctuations, the Abraham Accords have been and still remain a consensus issue. This is not only due to the clear advantages in the security, economic and technological aspects of the agreements, but because they express the sincere hope for genuine peace based on strength and security, and a much brighter future.

Meir Ben-Shabbat, a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, served as Israel’s national security adviser and head of the National Security Council between 2017 and 2021.

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