JERUSALEM, Israel – August 13, 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of a peace deal much of the world never saw coming. The Abraham Accords, initially involving Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), soon opened other doors.
When Israel and the UAE normalized relations, it became the first peace agreement between the Jewish state and an Arab state in 26 years. Within four months Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco also signed on to the Abraham Accords.
“It is very rare that there’s an opportunity for a win-win that can be transformational, not just for a country, but for a region. And the Abraham Accords is that transformational moment in history,” said Aryeh Lightstone, former advisor to the US Ambassador in Israel, David Friedman.
What makes these agreements different is the focus on developing ties in business, tourism, education and research between the countries. That’s helped open the doors to nearly $2 billion worth of business deals.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum and Emirati Abdullah Baqer work together on the UAE-Israel Business Council.
“This has been a very unique opportunity between the UAE and Israel to come with an agreement of peace and tolerance together,” said Baqer, President of the UAE-Israel Business Council.
“What this has done is realign the Middle East between countries that want peace and prosperity and countries that don’t. And countries that want to continue to battle aged old conflicts and don’t care about their people as much as they should,” said Hassan-Nahoum, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council.
“The Abraham Accords is not about the Jews and the Muslims. It’s also about the nationalities, other religions, that their involvement to this because we all live together,” Baqer told CBN News.
“What we hope is that the momentum that is created will be enough for other countries to join the alliance of the good countries in the Middle East that want to take care of their own people and improve their lives, improve their countries and reach their potential,” Hassan-Nahoum told CBN News.
That kind of thinking led to an agreement this week between the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and Bahrain’s leading research institute, Bahrain Center for Strategic International and Energy Studies (Derasat), headed by Bahrain’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr. Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmad al-Khalifa.
In light of Iran’s recent attacks on ships, it aims to build a coalition of Abraham Accords countries and others in the region.
“When people similar sentiments in the Middle East work together and expose what they are doing across our region and suggest a different path, we can actually win that war of ideas,” said Amb. Dore Gold, President of the JCPA.
“The [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal] has caused more instigation and extremism in many different regions across the Middle East,” Al-Khalifa told a briefing of journalists this week. He was in Israel for four days, signing three agreements with different academic institutions here.
When it comes to the accords, the United States played a major role including players like Lightstone.
“There was an artificial line dividing Israel and other nations in the region and beyond,” Lightstone told CBN News. “It just didn’t make sense.”
Lightstone says the US brought allies together, erasing unnatural divides and trying to remove the hurts.
“If you look at the places that are pillars of hope and light for the region – Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and, obviously, Israel. When they can work together…it’s going to drive more opportunity for more people in the region,” Lightstone said.
Given the recent leadership changes in the US and Israel, some feared the accords might not last.
“The Abraham Accords and peace in general is not a Republican thing. It’s not a Democrat thing. It’s an American thing. And America belongs steering this car in order to gain this transformation. And we should be there,” Lightstone said.
Hassan-Nahoum said that regional players are fully committed.
“The Americans did a fantastic thing of creating the circumstances for this peace and pushing us all together, but now that it’s been signed, everybody’s 100 percent committed and now it’s got its own legs,” she said.
Lightstone’s advice to those on the outside is to continue to pray.
“They’re called Abraham [Accords] for a reason. This is the reunification of Abraham and his children. This is brought together by the United States of America who saw the region clearly, embraced our friends and made very clear demands that our enemies,” he said.
And the next time visitors travel to Israel, they should include a trip to the Gulf States, he said.
“Simply say, ‘I’m here because you stood with Israel and I stand with you,’” he added.