Learning the Lessons of the Abraham Accords

After more than a year has passed since Israel signed its normalization treaties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Robert Nicholson considers how their success—as well as the subsequent agreements with Sudan, Morocco, and Kosovo—can guide future diplomatic efforts. Among his key takeaways:

Take interests seriously. Last year’s breakthrough came not because of interreligious dialogue or cross-cultural understanding. It came because of secret military and intelligence cooperation between Arabs and Israelis against the looming threat of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The goodwill came later, and that shouldn’t be surprising. Peace never starts with goodwill—it produces goodwill. It starts with mutual concerns about national security, because nations can’t think about peace when they feel threatened.

Don’t avoid religion. Even “secular” people in the Islamic world tend to be more religious than their Western counterparts, unapologetic in their particularism, and ready to defend faith and fatherland on pain of death. Yet the Ivy League-trained peacemaker presents himself to the region as a disinterested observer, a neutral friend of Muslims and Jews who brings no beliefs or agenda of his own. In a region where everyone belongs to some tradition, this posture looks suspicious. The expectation isn’t to hide one’s faith, but to profess it openly while affirming the role that religion plays in political life.

Take what you can get. Critics complain that the Abraham Accords fail to secure full peace with the Palestinians or address the human rights violations of the parties. But in a region devastated by war, every handshake brings the temperature down one more degree, rolling back the climate of hatred and making room for a deal with the Palestinians. Of course, we should be vigilant when dealing with flawed regimes to ensure that we’re never used to sanction evil, but . . . total moral satisfaction is impossible in relations between states, and yet it is states that make war and thus to states that we must look for peace.

Read more at World

More about: Abraham Accords, Diplomacy, Religion and politics

Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain