A Year after Normalization, Israel and the UAE Are Enjoying the Dividends of Peace

A year ago this Friday, Israel, the U.S., and the United Emirates announced the peace agreement known as the Abraham Accords. Zev Stub takes stock of the economic benefits the agreement has brought.

During 2020 and the first six months of 2021, Israel exported $197 million of goods and services to the UAE, and imported about $372 million. Trade could reach $1 billion for the whole of 2021, and could exceed $3 billion within three years, according to the UAE-Israel Business Council.

[These figures don’t] include tourism or investments between the countries. The largest commercial agreement so far between the two countries was Delek Drilling’s sale of its 22-percent share in the offshore Tamar natural-gas field to Abu Dhabi’s Mubdala Petroleum Company for $1.1 billion in April.

Israeli companies are starting to recognize the potential offered by the UAE’s economic ecosystem, said Dorian Barak, an investor and the co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council. “Israelis are always looking for ways to do business in South Asia, East Africa, India, and Bangladesh,” Barak said. “These are markets with two billion people, and you can’t work with them from Tel Aviv. The UAE is the place where everyone congregates to do business, and Israel has finally been admitted to that club.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Israeli economy, United Arab Emirates

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy