Despite its economic significance, not much has been written about the strategic consequences of the newly signed trade agreement between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This free trade agreement is a real step forward for the Abraham accords. It is the logical next step in really bringing both Israel and the United Arab Emirates closer together. When the average person assessed this volume of trade, which the two nations are projecting to be estimated at $10 billion, what this means in reality is that Israeli and Emirati business people are going to be flying back and forth between their two countries. Of course, some will probably set up offices in the other country. Importantly, people will see a lot in terms of people to people contact. People in America should think that such a trade deal is going to be an incredible opportunity for peace in the Middle East. It means simply that it is possible to see Israelis and Arabs working in partnership with each other.
Interestingly, we ought to consider that this partnership will be a model back home in Israel for the Palestinians. It is an opportunity for the Palestinians to see that their fellow Arab neighbours are conducting those types of close ties with the Israelis. Predictably, it will only become obvious for the Palestinians that a commercial partnership is an opportunity that they will be missing out on. Directly, they should follow the Emirati lead. Certainly, one hopes that the other Abraham accords’ countries are interested in trade deals with Israel as well. This invites the necessity of offering a word of appreciation for the United Arab Emirates.
What makes the Emirates unique is that they are kind of like the flip side of the Israelis in the sense that they both have these advanced tech sectors and economies that are just so flourishing and ready for this kind of ties with a similar economy. The Emirates was particularly well-positioned for a trade agreement with Israel in this way. But one can imagine that certainly the Moroccans and the Bahrainis will want to imitate the Emirati lead. Truthfully, the entire region of the Middle East will follow suit.
The Arab World needs to be clear on the fact that the Palestinian leadership is currently manipulating the situation on the ground. Specifically, it is acting to distance these Arab countries from Israel to try to get in the way of peace. This is their attempt to get in the way of normalisation between the Arab World and Israel. Regrettably, the Palestinians are creating conflict and tension where there does not necessarily have to be any. We have to be clear that Hamas is a proxy of the Iranian regime. The way the Palestinian Authority is behaving indicates that they might as well be a proxy of the regime in Tehran. And these (Palestinian and Iranian) parties are not interested in seeing a region of stability and prosperity. They are looking for a region of war. And so it behoves the Arab countries and their leaders that they should understand what the Palestinians are doing and not fall into the trap that they are laying out. Hence, the United States has a role to play in the process of Middle East peace.
The Biden Administration has to do everything in its power to encourage and strengthen the relationships between the existing Abraham accords’ countries. It is also very important to encourage more countries to make peace and warm peace deals with Israel. Everyone knows that conversations are taking place with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We have seen so many positive signals coming from the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and others in the leadership in Saudi Arabia. The sense that I have and many others is that peace between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel is a question of when not if. And the Biden Administration can certainly do more to help push that process along.
When you talk to people in any country they are, you will find out that every mother and father has dreams for their children is to pass on a brighter future to their children and grandchildren. And truly prosperity and economic opportunity is a way to make those dreams come true. Surely, this is a path that President Trump and his senior adviser Jared Kushner and other people in the Trump Administration understood. They looked at the Middle East as a region deserving this path to prosperity for everyone. And who should aspire more for this goal of prosperity in this region of the Middle East. Specifically, the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Egyptians and all of the Gulf Arab countries are its benefactors. They can help create a better future and use the economic path like the United Arab Emirates did as a way to do that.
About the Author …
Ellie Cohanim is an American broadcast journalist who was Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the United States Department of State during the Donald Trump administration. Follow her on her twitter account @elliecohanim