The Abraham Accords: A historic milestone for peace, security and prosperity in the Middle East

March 29, 2022 by Ran Yaakoby
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On 13th August 2020, Israel and the United Arab Emirates made the groundbreaking announcement that relations between the two countries would be normalised.

Ambassador Ran Yaakoby

Only one month later, the Abraham Accords, a historic agreement brokered by the United States, was signed, officially normalising relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Shortly after, Morocco announced its renewal of diplomatic relations with Israel. Following this, Sudan signed an agreement on the normalisation of relations with Israel in Khartoum in January 2021.

These historic milestones for peace, security, and prosperity in the region have opened wide the doors to significant new opportunities which benefit the region, from economy and trade to diplomacy, to civil society. The Abraham Accords paved the way for the numerous agreements that have been signed since, these include agreements on agritech, foodtech, watertech and research, biotech R&D, fintech, medtech, and many other sectors.

In the first year of the signing of the Abraham Accords alone, the UAE opened a $10 billion USD fund for investments in Israel allocated toward key strategic sectors such as agritech, energy, water, space, and healthcare. Bilateral trade between the UAE – Israel trade grew to $700 million USD. UAE Minister for Trade, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, projected that growth in bilateral trade would reach to over $1 trillion dollars USD in the next decade.

There have also been multiple high-level diplomatic visitations from Israel to the Abraham Accords signatory countries, including by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, as well as visits to Israel from high-level representatives of the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. In addition, Israel has opened embassies in the UAE, Morocco, and Bahrain, and is considering opening an embassy in Khartoum. The UAE, Morocco and Bahrain have also opened embassies in Israel, and though not yet a signatory, in the spirit of the Abraham Accords, Kosovo, which is equally a Muslim majority country, opened an embassy in Jerusalem.

These important milestones have also allowed the people-to-people relations of the Abraham Accords partner countries to flourish unlike ever before. 130,000 Israelis visited the UAE within the first 12 months of the signing of the Abraham Accords. Social initiatives have also been growing, one of the first being the Abraham Accords Friendship Cup where Israel’s national rugby team flew to Dubai for a friendly game. This among countless other initiatives are transforming Arab – Israeli relations in the region. This trend is perfectly demonstrated by Israel taking part in Expo 2020 Dubai, where it is showcasing Israel’s world-leading innovation. During his trip to Dubai, Israel’s Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana visited the pavilions of the Abraham Accords signatory countries at Expo 2020, where the Minister discussed the importance of building on these new alliances to strengthen the entire region. I would encourage Kiwis visiting Expo 2020 Dubai to seize the opportunity to see first-hand the incredible new technologies and transformative power of the Abraham Accords with a short stop-over flight to neighbouring Israel, known globally as the Start-Up Nation.

Furthermore, the stability and strength of the Abraham Accords has been proven over these past two years, through the most difficult of challenges, for instance, during the May 2021 terror attacks from Hamas, an internationally recognised terror organisation which launched over 4,000 rockets toward Israeli cities, targeting Israeli civilians. Even at the height of these attacks from the terror organisation Hamas, not one of the Abraham Accords partners withdrew its diplomats from Israel. The realities on the ground tell the true political and economic story of the resilience of the Abraham Accords.

Most recently, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hosted the US Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Egypt at ‘The Negev Summit’, which took place in Sde Boker from Sunday, 27 March 2022 to Monday, 28 March 2022. The six Foreign Ministers participated in a historic meeting where they held fruitful talks on a wide range of regional issues, including economy, peace and security. These talks led to the mutual decision between the Ministers to make the Negev Summit into a permanent forum. At the conclusion of the Negev Summit, FM Yair Lapid, stated that, “together with our closest friend, the United States, we are today opening a door before all the peoples of the region, including the Palestinians, and offering them to replace the way of terror and destruction with a shared future of progress and success.”

This new diplomatic and regional architecture deserves acknowledgement and support not only in New Zealand but around the world.

Ran Yaakoby is the Ambassador of Israel to New Zealand.

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