Jeff Mendelsohn, Times of Israel | 9/23/20
United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signing agreements toward normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel seemed unimaginable even just a few decades ago. In fact, it seemed impossible that these countries would ever recognize Israel’s right to exist, let alone form economic ties. Yet last week, the seemingly impossible happened. How? Through American leadership and a sustained, strong U.S-Israel relationship.
The Abraham Accords are a significant victory not only for Israel and the Middle East, but for the United States and the entire world. With the signing of the formal agreements, UAE and Bahrain are only the third and fourth countries in the Middle East to formally recognize Israel and normalize diplomatic relations with the Jewish State (following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994) – an extraordinary strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries that benefits our prospects for peace and works to fight against Iranian dominance and aggression.
These back-to-back diplomatic breakthroughs simply could not have happened without strong American global leadership and robust bipartisan support in Congress for the U.S.-Israel relationship.
The U.S.-Israel relationship benefits both countries in many ways. One important element of our alliance is helping ensure a strong, secure Israel that is able to defend itself and its borders. Israel’s economic and military strength are key drivers for shared peace and prosperity with its neighbors. Partnering with Israel, rather than fighting Israel, has become the strategic imperative. Strong bipartisan support for our alliance has been, and remains, critical for ensuring a long-term partnership that endures regardless of swings in our politics.
U.S. leadership has long been a force for good in the world. Regarding the Middle East, the U.S. has provided a clear vision that peace is possible without compromising Israel’s existence or safety, while working to encourage, support and advance bilateral negotiations over many years. These efforts, coupled with our strong commitment to our alliance, have helped create this historic moment.
Now, when we look at the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, while currently dim, we should definitely not let ourselves think this is impossible. We should also not let anyone tell us the only way to get there is to leverage our relationship with Israel to push prescribed solutions that don’t reflect reality. American leadership and direct negotiations between the parties – not boycotts, divestments and sanctions – made last week’s advances possible. When the Arab countries were ready for peace, it happened. These are the tools we must use in the future to build shared security and prosperity.
As Israel and its neighbors work to expand diplomatic ties, there has never been a more critical time to advance bipartisan support in Congress for America’s critical strategic alliance with Israel, by electing candidates who will strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and take more steps toward peace, security and economic growth in the Middle East and beyond.