How to Make Israel’s Improving Relations with the Arab World Last

Jan. 11 2021

In brokering the Abraham Accords—which were joined by Sudan on Wednesday—as well as the normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco, the U.S. offered various rewards to the Arab parties. The presence of such inducements does not make these dramatic diplomatic breakthroughs less cause for celebration. But it does make them inherently brittle, writes Michael Koplow, and it is thus important for both Jerusalem and Washington to seek ways to strengthen them:

Agreements to recognize Israel that are contingent upon unrelated policy moves from a third actor are inherently fleeting and subject to being rolled back. . . . Given the whiplash in foreign policy that took place when Donald Trump replaced President Barack Obama and that is now expected to happen again with the shift to President Biden, American commitments in particular are in doubt in ways that were previously unthinkable. Any normalization agreements that depend on continuity in U.S. foreign policy in order to guarantee them may be fleeting.

Open questions remain about how normalization with the UAE might be impacted if the arms package gets delayed or altered in the future, or how normalization with Morocco will proceed if a future administration withdraws recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. Relations that are built on self-interest can be lasting, but only if that interest is squarely in the relationship itself rather than on tangential issues.

The Biden administration should pursue the continuation of this process. Normalization between Israel and its former foes not only benefits Israel but benefits American interests and regional stability as well, and puts to rest an ugly boycott that delegitimizes Israel’s fundamental right to self-determined sovereignty. The challenge for Joe Biden and his team will be to help broker agreements between Israel and its regional neighbors that rest on their own strength.

Read more at Israel Policy Forum

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel diplomacy, Morocco, U.S. Foreign policy

President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process