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September 23, 2020 6:31 am

The Abraham Accords: Be Appreciative, but Realistic

avatar by Matan Peleg


Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan display their copies of signed agreements while US President Donald Trump looks on, at the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords, at the White House in Washington, DC, Sept. 15, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Tom Brenner.

On September 15, Israel signed peace and normalization agreements simultaneously with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with hopefully more to come.

Politically, these agreements undercut all those who argued that peace could not be made in the Middle East as long as Israel did not reconcile with the Palestinians (which in effect meant completely caving in to all of their demands).

These new agreements illustrate the reality that peace can only be made with two kinds of enemies. The first is with a defeated enemy, or at least an enemy who has abandoned the ideal of destroying you. The second is with an enemy that you have successfully convinced that you are not its enemy, but rather a potential partner.

Based on the latter option, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established peace with the Sunni axis that is currently huddled together in fear of the Iranian-Shia alliance.

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For fear of the common enemy — Iran and its allies — the Sunni countries will act with all their power for the sake of the anti-Shia alliance, which is led by US President Donald Trump. This contrast helps explain the Sunni countries’ recent moves: by forming an alliance with Israel, they also aim to strengthen Trump, their ally, in the upcoming elections in November.

Ironically, even if Trump loses the election, the Sunni alliance will become even more important, as they could be facing Iran alone.

In these recent “realpolitik” developments, Israel benefits in at least three ways: It expands its economic horizon; it fortifies its security situation; and it creates an inflection point in Israel’s status in the consciousness of millions of neighboring Arabs. Now, literally millions of Arabs, as well as their leaders, understand that hatred of Israel does not have to be an eternal religious or cultural component, but rather a political opinion that is subject to legitimate change.

Nevertheless, “one can’t have something for nothing.” These agreements do not stand for “peace for peace,” but for “peace for silence.” In other words, peace for the price of avoiding certain internal conflicts that could undermine those alliances.

We ought to remember that the Palestinian Authority is literally conquering territories throughout Judea and Samaria via systematic illegal construction in Area C. And Hamas is engaged in ecological terrorism, launching incendiary balloons that burn Israeli fields. Their lawless aggression demands a military move into Gaza to stop it, but such a decision will now probably be pushed further aside.

Other issues that will be silenced are the increasing demand of Jews in Israel to achieve religious freedom on the Temple Mount, where they are currently prohibited from praying. Of course, all of the sovereignty options in Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan Valley, have been silenced as well.

We must also remember that Israel is failing to stop, or even to contain, Israel’s own Islamic Movement, which now operates more than ever throughout the Galilee, the Negev, and in East Jerusalem.

So let’s be appreciative, but also realistic. Let’s say yes to peace but no to drunkenness. We mustn’t loosen our grip on reality, and we should never give away the State of Israel’s existential assets for agreements, which, on a day of reckoning, won’t be able to ensure our continued survival in Zion.

Matan Peleg is CEO of Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist movement.

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