Abraham’s Accords are a catalyst for broader change in the Middle East
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The authors are respectively the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel.
Last year, a kidney transplant was facilitated by a joint UAE-Israel donor program. Emirati artist Tareq Al Menhai gave a virtual concert with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the Shalva Band of disabled Israeli musicians. US and Israeli entrepreneurs expanded their D’Vaish health food business by partnering with UAE-based Al Barakah date factory, and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala just closed $ 1 billion investment in the Israeli gas field of Tamar.
The so-called Abrahamic Accords signed between the UAE and Israel in September of last year have proven to be extraordinarily durable, even with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced many countries to fall back on them- same. Travel and personal contact were restricted. New governments in the United States and Israel have faced calls to deprioritize the Accords. The 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas earlier this year has been tragic and disturbing.
Despite all of this, the official links moved quickly. Embassies have been established in Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. Senior officials used open channels to deal directly with the issues. Cabinet ministers attended in person. Ministries of Health have started intense cooperation on Covid initiatives. Memoranda of understanding, trade agreements and other formal agreements have been concluded.
After a year of open and peaceful relations between the UAE and Israel, real change is taking place. Our goal now is to do more – to deepen peace and extend it to the whole region.
Governments can make deals, but Emiratis and Israelis are showing us all how people can make peace. They quickly break down barriers motivated by shared interests and common values.
A generational shift in mindset also underlies the Abrahamic accords. Young entrepreneurs, researchers and cultural pioneers speak a new language of peace. Embracing innovation, deploying technology and leveraging venture capital, they plan for start-ups and exchanges in the fields of artificial intelligence, green economy, space exploration, content development and water security.
But as we celebrate these achievements, Israelis and Emiratis must stay focused on something bigger. The Abrahamic Accords have always been designed as a catalyst for greater change. How can we now work together to achieve an innovation-based peace that embraces the whole region?
First, the benefits of standardization must be realized by all signatories to the Agreements, as well as by Egypt and Jordan. A study by the Rand Corporation estimated the region-wide potential of $ 1 billion in new economic activity.
As two of the fastest growing and most advanced countries in the world, the United Arab Emirates and Israel can help boost economic opportunities by pushing for deeper regional integration. One element should be new institutions and cooperation to facilitate trade and cooperate in public health and development.
Second, the continued engagement of the United States and Europe is essential. Republicans and Democrats disagree on much, but normalization has received enthusiastic support from the Trump and Biden administrations and across Congress. Across Europe, too, the Agreements have been warmly received.
Active US and European political, financial and technical support will help realize their full potential, as will the appointment of special envoys to coordinate these efforts. These measures will be welcomed as a clear signal of the sustained commitment of our friends to the stability and security of the region.
Third, the accords underscored that while a comprehensive peace agreement is still not in sight, better conditions for the Palestinians are in the common interest of all of us. Normalization should help facilitate increased investment, trade, and trade between the Palestinians and the Arab world.
Skeptics will remain cynical, but they should look to what happened last year against all odds. New ways of thinking and shared interests allow breakthroughs and relationship building. They encourage others in the region to initiate new avenues of diplomatic dialogue.
Real breakthroughs are difficult, but the Emiratis and Israelis have shown they are possible. This is just the start – the next step is to expand opportunities and connect people across the region. It is the best antidote to the pessimism and hopeless extremist ideology that has held the Middle East back for too long.