The Abraham Accords Withstood Their First Test

June 4, 2021 | Bonnie Glick and Dore Feith
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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.

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