For the EU, it was recognition that Israeli military capabilities were important additions to their flagging defense capability. Israel became a “major non-NATO ally” and opened a formal office in Brussels, even as European pols denounced Israeli “war crimes” in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
In 2018, Israel and Europol signed an intelligence-sharing pact, the first working arrangement between Europol and a non-EU country. Israel’s military exercises have included India, France and Germany (people are still getting over having the Luftwaffe fly in Israel). But also, before the Abraham Accords, a pilot from the United Arab Emirates was there, and this year, Jordan (quietly) flew in an Israeli air drill. Israel’s move to CENTCOM allowed it to sail in a Red Sea exercise with a different set of countries.
The EastMed Pipeline was green-lighted in Europe in 2013, recognizing that long-term dependence on Russian natural gas was untenable. The United States agreed until this year. But Europe still needs the future gas that EastMed will provide, even without American assistance.
The Abraham Accords are transformative agreements — taking the Palestinians out of the driver’s seat while leaving them access to the car — and foster the process of Arab reconciliation with the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The Bet Din of Arabia makes the point. Egypt and Jordan, longtime peace-treaty holders, have become more overt and helpful with Gulf State support. The economic and security benefits of the relationship with Israel vis à vis the threat of Iran were obvious.
The Biden administration, however, has chosen not to build on the accords and came to office throwing gifts at the Iranian regime in hopes of getting a nuclear deal. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was slammed with a source-less, meaningless and nasty CIA report on the killing of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi. Planned arms sales to Saudi and UAE were “frozen.” US air defenses were removed from Saudi Arabia, and the terror designation removed from Iran-armed Houthi rebels who are bombing both civilian and industrial sites in Saudi Arabia and the UAE (including one rocket that was intercepted during Herzog’s visit there), and the Yemeni city of Marib in January. Reasonably enough, the Gulf States moved away from their historic closeness with America and closed ranks with Israel, which is immutably opposed to a new Iran deal.
President Joe Biden’s request for more Gulf oil this week did not fall on deaf ears; it was roundly and publicly rejected by both countries unless the United States takes their security concerns into account. And there was a strong suggestion that he visit the Gulf region.
Amid the horror of the Russian war in Ukraine, in the midst of upheaval in NATO and under the ever-present threat of a US-Iran deal that will enhance Iran’s nuclear and financial capabilities, countries that have benefited from their relations with Israel may finally allow their respect for the Jewish, democratic State of Israel to emerge.
Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.