The Abraham Accords Have Brought the Middle East Closer to Peace

On the third anniversary of the treaty among the U.S., Israel, and the United Arab Emirates—later joined by Bahrain—Ed Husain reflects on its fruits:

I am writing these lines as I shuttle between Jerusalem and Arab capitals. The Accords helped establish direct flights from Israel to Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, some above Saudi airspace. In the airport lounges of Dubai, I watch ordinary Iranians and Israelis, supposedly sworn enemies, talking about their families and businesses. Trade volumes are increasing annually between Arab nations and Israel from $590 million in 2019 to $3.4 billion last year and will burgeon significantly. With 200 weekly flights, . . . more than a million Israelis have visited the United Arab Emirates. Air traffic has increased between Israel and Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey.

Change takes time and leadership. What the Accords have started must continue and, in the long run, will increase the popularity of peace in Arab countries. Persuading 350 million Arabs will be a more complex challenge than 10 million Israelis, but the work has begun and requires American and regional support.

[Furthermore], the Accords suspended Israeli annexations of disputed territories until 2024 and kept alive Palestinian dreams of a future state. That “normalization, not annexation” model is now on the table for Saudi Arabia to secure a longer term of no expansion. Palestinian leaders from the West Bank have been meeting in Riyadh and Amman to open a new stage of respect and dignity for their people. . . . In a future Palestinian state, we should imagine the presence of Jewish citizens. After all, Israel has a 20-percent Arab population.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Palestinians

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria