It’s been one year since leaders from Bahrain, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates signed the historic Abraham Accords at the White House, normalizing ties between Israel and the two Arab countries. Just two months later, Morocco and Israel also signed a normalization agreement. In January 2021 Sudan did so as well.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken celebrated the first anniversary of the accords by hosting a video conference with Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, former UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash and Bahrain’s Ambassador to the United States Abdullah Khalifa.
Secretary Blinken noted the benefits from the Accords have been remarkable. Diplomatic relationships have burgeoned: Israel opened embassies in the UAE and in Bahrain; both UAE and Bahrain appointed their first ambassadors to Israel; and Israel and Morocco agreed to upgrade their missions to full embassies in the near future.
Economic opportunities, innovations, and collaborations have flourished as well. “The United Arab Emirates has pursued significant investments in strategic sectors in Israel, including energy, medicine, technology, health care,” said Secretary Blinken. “Private firms across your countries are working together on everything from desalination to stem cell therapies.”
People-to-people ties have also grown. “There is a hunger,” he noted, “to learn about each other’s cultures, to see new sights to try new foods, forge new friendships – all experiences that have been impossible for so long and for so many, and now they’re making up for lost time.”
Secretary Blinken said the deepening relationships among the nations of the Middle East also “provide a foundation to tackle challenges that demand cooperation among nations, like reducing regional tensions, combating terrorism, and mitigating the climate crisis.”
He emphasized the necessity “of building on these relationships and growing normalization to make tangible improvements in the lives of Palestinians, and to make progress toward the longstanding goal of advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians and Israelis,” he declared, “deserve equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity, and dignity.”
The United States will continue to support and build on the landmark agreements in three ways, Secretary Blinken said: by fostering Israel’s ties with the countries who have agreed to normalization; by deepening Israel’s existing relationship with Egypt and Jordan, and by encouraging more countries to join the Abraham Accords.
“Normalization,” said Secretary Blinken, “leads to greater stability, more cooperation, mutual progress – all things the region and the world need very badly right now.”