United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to mark the first anniversary of normalization agreements between the Arab countries and Israel by hosting a virtual meeting today, with his counterparts from Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Morocco.
By Erin Viner
The event serves as the highest-profile display of support by the administration of US President Joe Biden for the Abraham Accords. The White House has backed the peace treaties since taking office in January, and senior aides say they are working to get additional Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel after decades of enmity.
The leaders of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain first signed the Abraham Accords in a Washington ceremony in September of last year. Sudan announced normalized ties with Israel in October, with Morocco following suit in December. Egypt was the first Arab state to forge peace with Israel in 1979 and Jordan the second in 1994.
Welcoming the anniversary, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a statement today saying that the “unprecedented” and “strategic agreements” mark a “new chapter in the history of peace in the Middle East.”
Thanking the “leadership of the UAE and of Bahrain for the courage and the daring that enabled the establishment of diplomatic relations, and the American administration which tirelessly led, supported and mediated the success of this achievement,” the Israeli leader said that, “Relations between the countries are only at their beginning and are already bearing many fruit.”
Prime Minister Bennett vowed that “The Government of Israel under my leadership will continue to implement the agreements while striving for a stable, secure and prosperous Middle East for the future of our children.”
Avi Berkowitz, the former Middle East envoy who helped broker the accords together with former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, wrote on Twitter: “Thank you to the Biden administration and specifically @SecBlinken for supporting the Abraham Accords.”
The UAE Embassy in Israel began celebrations of the anniversary last week, by hanging banners in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv printed in Arabic, Hebrew and English, reading: “Peace is the Future of our Children.”
The agreements have led to extensive multilateral trade and investment deals between the peace partners.
Hailing the “historic” Abraham Accords as showing that “peace is possible and worthwhile for the leaders who courageously pursue it – and for their peoples,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that today’s event include discussion among the parties on “ways to further deepen ties and build a more prosperous region.”
“One year later, we see over half a billion dollars in trade between Israel and these new partners and direct flights between Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi, Marrakesh, and Manama, with huge implications for freedom of travel in the region. We continue to support these agreements and their signatories and we look forward to opportunities to further expand and advance cooperation between Israel and countries around the world,” said Price during a press briefing.
The State Department Spokesman added that “Importantly, we will also endeavor to ensure that as Israel and other countries in the region join together in a common effort to build bridges and create avenues for dialogue and exchange, we’re able to make tangible progress towards the goal of advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”