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Politics & Law Series: Expert Comment

The signing of the Abraham Accord reflects a convergence of interests of all parties involved, says City, University of London academic

By Dr Amnon Aran, Senior Lecturer in International Politics of the Middle East.

by City Press Office (General enquiries)

The normalisation treaties between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, which are expected to be signed today at the White House, reflect a convergence of interests of all parties involved.

The agreements are a significant diplomatic achievement for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concept of ‘peace for peace’. They will expand Israel's relations with Arab countries, marginalising the Palestinians and their demand for statehood. At the same time, Netanyahu is vulnerable domestically. He faces trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust while facing domestic criticism over his handling of Covid-19. Netanyahu is looking to use his diplomatic achievement to deflect domestic criticism; whether or not this will be achieved remains to be seen.

What the agreement means for President Trump

US President Donald Trump is in a similar situation. His foreign policy approach toward the Middle East of re-launching the US offensive against Iran as the US mediates between Israel and Gulf countries, has yielded the first two Arab-Israeli peace agreements in 26 years. However, as Trump runs for re-election with a less than impressive record of his administration in dealing with Covid-19, he will be trying to harness the peace agreements - secured by his administration - to signal that the US is still a world superpower and the only country that can bring peace between Israel and the Arabs.

Dealing with the 'Iranian threat'

For the leaders of Bahrain and the UAE, the normalisation agreement constitutes an insurance policy amid the possibility of the Democrats returning to power. Armed with a peace deal with Israel, the two countries should not expect to face criticism over their policies, let alone retaliatory measures, from Congress or a new administration, irrespective of whether the Democrats or the Republicans win the November 2020 US election.

Furthermore, past restrictions on arms sales faced by the UAE and Bahrain, such as the advanced F-35 fighter jet - which were tied to the lack of relations with Israel - will now be lifted. Thus, the normalisation agreement with Israel strengthens the two countries’ position to deal with what their leaders have referred to as the ‘Iranian threat’.

Quotes can be attributed to Dr Amnon Aran, Senior Lecturer in International Politics of the Middle East at City, University of London.

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