How the Abraham Accords Can Ease the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

June 28 2022

According to numerous critics, many of whom have positions at prestigious think tanks and publications, the normalization agreements the Jewish state reached with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain constituted an abandonment of the Palestinians. Peter Berkowitz argues that, to the contrary, the Abraham Accords can help to improve the lot of the Palestinians, and to reduce the intensity of their conflict with Israel:

Such tendentious claims—which presuppose that the Israel-Palestinian conflict stands at the center of Middle East politics and that unless Palestinians’ maximal demands are met, the region must stand still—reflect the all-or-nothing stance that has for decades impeded Palestinian progress. Contrary to [the] assertion that Israel embraced the Abraham Accords to disguise its reign over Judea and Samaria, it was the Iran threat and commercial opportunities that impelled Bahrain and the UAE to break with the past and establish official diplomatic ties with Israel.

Notwithstanding Palestinian intransigence, signatories to the Abraham Accords should in the words of the Israeli commentator Micah Goodman, take steps to “shrink the Israel-Palestinian conflict.” They could start with building roads, bridges, and tunnels to connect directly the many noncontiguous parts of the West Bank largely under Palestinian Authority (PA) control—the areas designated A and B by the Oslo Accords. This enhanced transportation network, which would become part of the PA, would improve Palestinian mobility by reducing the need for Israeli checkpoints while maintaining Israeli security.

Other measures to shrink the conflict include providing more West Bank land for Palestinian building to accommodate population growth, enhancing the Allenby Bridge border crossing on the Jordan river to make it easier for Palestinians to reach Amman’s international airport and to travel abroad, promoting economic development throughout the West Bank, and enabling Palestinians to transport goods for international trade more efficiently to Israeli ports in Haifa and Ashdod.

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Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Abraham Accords, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian economy, West Bank

 

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy