Arab Israelis Are Reaping the Benefits of the Abraham Accords

April 22 2021

For Arab citizens of the Jewish state, the opening of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to travel and commerce brings a specific set of new opportunities, write Marc Sievers and Jonathan Ferziger:

The large number of Arab Israelis who also are eager to enjoy the sights and sounds of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Manama have largely been overlooked. Besides the ease of sharing language and culture, the fact is that they are able to circulate in Israel’s new Abraham Accords partner countries more freely than in, say, Egypt, where they are generally subjected to scrutiny and sometimes harassment. As for the evolving business connections, they should have a significant economic impact that may eventually even spread to the West Bank, given the many extended family ties between Israeli Arabs and West Bank Palestinians.

Israeli Arabs have an emerging professional class concentrated heavily in the medical sector. Arab-owned businesses, which figure prominently in Israel’s construction and trucking industries, are increasingly moving into the realm of technology start-ups, which have become the country’s calling card.

That’s what took Mayor Adel Badir from Kafr Qasim, a satellite town east of Tel Aviv, to the Cybertech Global conference in the UAE this month. . . . “As Arabs in Israel, we’ve always been a bridge to encourage peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Badir said, fresh from his maiden venture into the Gulf. “We are happy to play that role now with Arab countries that have opened to us through the Gulf accords.”

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Abraham Accords, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Palestinians


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship