Friday, September 01, 2023

By Daled Amos

The Abraham Accords continue to be a success. September 15th will mark the 3rd anniversary of the peace agreement since its signing. More than that, the number of members has increased since the UAE and Bahrain joined and now there is talk of the US trying to get the Saudis added -- in time for Biden to get a Nobel Peace Prize going into the 2024 presidential election.

What a contrast to the Oslo Accords, the peace agreement that was supposed to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

It's not just that Oslo did not bring peace.
Even when people were talking up the idea of the accords, there were admissions behind the scenes that there were problems.

This week, JNS reported Israel declassifies minutes of Cabinet meeting that OK’d first Oslo Accord:

While Rabin would reject the warnings of Oslo’s detractors and defend the accords publicly, privately he admitted his fears at the meeting, which was attended by another 17 government members and then-IDF Chief of Staff Ehud Barak.

“This is a difficult deal,” said Rabin at the outset, according to the minutes. “Of course, had we been negotiating with ourselves, the wording would have been far better. Some of the phrasing is unsympathetic … but we must regard all of the different components from a much more comprehensive view.”

Rabin also noted that there was little demanded of the other side. “There is very little commitment on their part,” he said.

Peres was almost prescient at this 1993 meeting, saying “there is a possibility that the whole PLO business will fall apart and there will be a kind of Hamas-Iran here.”

There are more revelations to come, if you are willing to wait.  More meeting minutes are supposed to be made public over the next 20 years and the rest in 60 years.

What a contrast to the Abraham Accords!
But what about the talk now going on about peace with Saudi Arabia?

The 2 elements most commonly associated with the accords is the common alliance against Iran and the economic opportunities -- and both of these elements seem applicable to the Saudis.

Yet a few days ago, Elder of Ziyon openly questioned What does Israel gain from a Saudi normalization deal? Among his points:

There is already a cold peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and it is unlikely to get that much warmer with an agreement. 

o  It isn't as if the Saudis would start suddenly voting against anti-Israel resolutions at the UN 

o  If Iran started a war in the region that threatened the Saudis, Israel would help them out regardless of the Abraham Accords

o  Joint projects and investments would benefit the Saudis more than the Israelis.

Read the whole thing

But what is the likelihood that the Saudi leadership can enter a peace agreement with Israel?

The Kingdom zealously protects its image as a leader in the Muslim world and guardian of Mecca. It is hesitant to be seen as turning its back on the Palestinian Arabs. But at the same time, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has applied some pressure on the Palestinian Authority as well:

If Abbas can get security under control, the crown prince offered assurances that the kingdom would eventually resume its funding for the Palestinian Authority and that Saudi Arabia wouldn’t accept any deal with Israel that undermines efforts to create an independent Palestinian state, the officials said.

Saudi funding to the PA sank to zero in 2021 from $174 million a year in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is using the issue of Saudi Arabia to pressure Israel. Last week Axios reported 

The Biden administration told the Israeli government last week that it would have to make significant concessions to the Palestinians as part of any possible mega-deal with Saudi Arabia that includes normalization between the kingdom and Israel, four U.S. officials and a source briefed on the issue told Axios.
As part of this narrative, Secretary of State Blinken told Israel's minister of strategic affairs Ron Dermer that Israel is "misreading the situation" if it thinks it will not have to make any such concessions. Blinken also made a point of stressing that the Saudis have to show the Arab world that it got major concessions from Israel on the Palestinians in order for it to sell the idea of normalization.

At least there are indications that MBS is requiring some kind of action from Abbas. As far as Biden is concerned there is only a need for Israel to make concessions, raising the question: is Biden really looking to add the Saudis to the Abraham Accord, or is he just trying to leverage this into a way to drag Israel into a two-state solution? 

Aryeh Lightstone, former advisor to Ambassador David Friedman and special envoy to the Abraham Accords, sees the addition of Saudi Arabia to the Abraham Accords as important in itself, and not solely for the benefit of Israel. It helps to counter the influence that China is trying to build in the region, especially after mediating between the Saudis and Iran. 

But Biden seems more focused on succeeding where Obama failed, in pushing for a Palestinian state -- just as he is single-minded in appeasing Iran.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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