The Abraham Accords Withstood Their First Test

In its recent round of fighting with Israel, write Bonnie Glick and Dore Feith, Hamas hoped that it could “drive a wedge between Israel and its new Arab friends,” namely the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. It failed:

The premise of the [Abraham] Accords is that Israel’s diplomacy with Arab states can flourish without being constrained by the Israel-Palestinian deadlock. Hamas had hoped to prove that premise wrong by attacking Israel, provoking it to retaliate across military targets embedded in Gaza’s densely populated neighborhoods and inflaming Arab publics to rally around the Palestinian cause and force their own governments to nullify the agreements. Though many Arabs denounced Israel’s military operation, no country downgraded its relations with Israel. Compare this with the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, when four Arab countries (Tunisia, Morocco, Oman, and Qatar) dissolved the less-than-full diplomatic ties they had established with Israel in the 1990s.

Indeed, official Arab voices were some of the most moderate, especially compared with their reaction to Israel’s last major operation in Gaza in 2014. That was when the UAE’s foreign ministry disparaged the Israel Defense Forces operating in Gaza as “occupation forces” exacting “collective revenge” on the Palestinians.

Emirati officials have changed their tone on Gaza since normalizing relations with Israel in 2020. Their mild press releases about the fighting resembled standard U.S. State Department calls for de-escalation and “restraint.” [One UAE] official accused Hamas of “dooming the residents of the [Gaza] Strip to a life of suffering.” Behind the scenes, Emirati officials reportedly worked to restrain Hamas, threatening to withhold future investments in Gaza if it continued attacks on Israel.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, United Arab Emirates


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security