A bi-partisan delegation of US senators recently returned from Bahrain, Israel, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The purpose of their trip was to strengthen the Abraham Accords and to pave new roads for deeper collaboration in the near future.
Senator Jacky Rosen (Democrat – Nevada), one of the leaders of the delegation alongside Senator James Lankford (Republican – Oklahoma), said, “The Accords are a beginning, not an end to our engagement.”
The other senators who participated in the diplomatic mission were Michael Bennet (Democrat – Colorado), Ted Budd (Republican – North Carolina), Kirsten Gillibrand (Democrat – New York), Mark Kelly (Democrat – Arizona), Lankford, Rosen, and Dan Sullivan (Republican – Arkansas).
Senator Rosen’s website provides a summary of the meetings and quotes from the bi-partisan group of senators.
Speaking to Jewish Insider about the Abraham Accords trip, Senator Gillibrand said she has “never been more optimistic than today” about the future of cooperation and peace in the Middle East. She added, “This was an extremely positive trip and it is one where I felt there was far more hope for a long-term peace solution and a long-term regional alliance than ever before. It was probably the most optimistic trip I have taken to Israel in the last ten years.”
The bi-partisan group of senators urged the Biden Administration to deepen and strengthen the Abraham Accords. Gillibrand added that it “has to be a very significant high priority” for the US government.
There have already been many positive developments in the Abraham Accords. For example, trade ties between Israel and the UAE have grown substantially since the signing ceremony at the White House in 2020. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, trade between Israel and the UAE reached $212.6 million in August 2022, constituting a 163% increase in trade in just one year, as the Kashmir Observer reported.
The bi-partisan group of US senators, however, are pointing to a number of potential “sticking points,” including the UAE’s relationship with China and the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
Critics of the agreements say that they have failed to produce tangible improvements in the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.
Senator Kelly, as documented by The National, said that there was much work to do, particularly on “the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
As the Jewish Insider wrote, Israeli policy under Netanyahu’s new government has already created friction with the UAE and Jordan, a country that some envision as a future member of the Abraham Accords.
These matters and more are likely to be brought up in a proposed meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Emirati leadership in the UAE. Morocco also is reportedly hosting an Abraham Accords summit in March. You can read more about the Morocco-Israel connection here.
Another criticism of the Abraham Accords is that the populations of the involved countries do not favor the normalization of ties with Israel. In Morocco, for instance, an Arab Barometer report revealed that 64% of Moroccans oppose the reestablishment of ties between Israel and Morocco.
In addition to the potential benefits they could bring to the Middle East, the Abraham Accords also are a positive sign in terms of bi-partisan cooperation in the United States. It is rare to see Democrats and Republicans unite as they have on this manner.
The Abraham Accords are not merely good for the Middle East. They also are good for the United States.
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