One Year Later, the Abraham Accords Have Brought an Economic Bonanza to Israel and Its New Gulf Partners

Sept. 17 2021

A year ago last Wednesday, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and the U.S. formally signed normalization agreements at the White House. Zev Stub discusses the trade that has flourished since then:

According to data published by [Israel’s] Central Bureau of Statistics, trade in goods between Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached about $610 million from January to July 2021. Israel exported $210 million and imported $400 million, with diamonds comprising about half of all trade. Those numbers don’t include high-tech-services exports, which comprise a significant share of bilateral trade, the Israel Export Institute noted.

Both sides are very optimistic about future trade growth, with hopes of exceeding $1 billion this year and reaching $3 billion within three years, trade organizations say. That means that if year one was filled with lots of talk about peace, relationships, and potential, the coming years will yield significant returns.

Israeli businesses are starting to see the UAE not just as a new market, but as a hub where they can access markets in South Asia, East Africa, India, and Bangladesh for the first time. “These are markets with billions of people, and you can’t work with them from Tel Aviv,” says Dorian Barak, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council. “The UAE is the place where everyone congregates to do business, and Israel has finally been admitted to that club.”

On Monday, Abu Dhabi’s economy minister announced that he hoped for $1 trillion in trade with the Jewish state over the next ten years.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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


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