The Abraham Accords: Change in Palestine’s stance in the new Arab-Israeli Peace Deal

Updated: May 26

Swachita Ravi,

Research Intern,

Internationalism Research.

Adrija Ghosh,

Research Member,

Internationalism Research.

A Brief History of the Conflict Between Israel And Palestine

The Middle-East has been one of the most troubled regions of the world, especially since 1945. It comprises of Egypt, Oman, Lebanon, Iraq Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Arabs are dominant in most of these states, except in Turkey and Iran. The Jewish state of Israel, which was carved out of Palestine, by United Nations in 1948, is also a part of this region. It was the creation of Israel out of the Arabic nation of Palestine which led to a severe conflict between the Arabs and the Jews.

Though the current political dispute began in the 19th century, both the Jews and Arabs date their claims to the land back a couple of thousand years. The Arab attempt to reclaim Israel as Palestine led to the Arab-Israeli wars, which is a series of military conflicts between Israel and various Arab forces from 1948 onwards. In 1948, on the day of creation of Israel, the armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq invaded Israel, marking the beginning of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The nascent Israeli Defense Force repulsed the Arab nations from part of the occupied territories, thus extending its borders beyond the original UNSCOP partition between the two nations. By December 1948, Israel controlled most of the portions given to Palestine to the west of Jordon River. The Arabs lost more territories in its successive attempts to invade Israel. The Suez War of 1956, the Six-Day War in 1967, 1973 Yom Kippur War were the four major wars fought between Israel and Palestine. It was these wars which divided the region into three parts namely the State of Israel, Gaza Strip and West Bank. After the 1967 war, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank which consisted of a significant number of Palestinian populations came under Israel’s control. Presently, there exists no formal state of Palestine, however, only the Gaza Strip is nominally controlled by the ‘Palestinian Authority.’

The Arab-Israeli peace process which started around the mid-1970s aiming to bring about reconciliation between these two war-ridden nations has failed to bring about long-lasting peace even today.

Role of the USA in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The United States was the first nation to recognize the sovereignty of Israel in 1948 and has been an active part of the Arab-Israeli conflict because of its vested interest in both of the nations. From 1967 onwards USA’s approach in this conflict became increasingly ‘pro- Israel.’ It has, over the years, sent millions of dollars to Israel as financial and military aid. It should also be noted that the USA, also, has a strong intention to maintain good relations with the Middle-East due of its strategic involvement in several Middle-Eastern affairs. However, the Arab-US ties deteriorated significantly in the latter half of the 19th century when the US foreign policy indicated strong sympathies for the Israeli cause. For instance, the US President Bill Clinton on coming to power brought forth the ‘Israel first policy’ where it was declared that the chief aim of USA’s foreign policy would be to keep Israel strong. Besides, for decades, the United States has used its veto power as a permanent member of the UNSC to block resolutions censuring Israel. Since 1980, the United States has only once allowed the Security Council to condemn Israel for its settlement construction, in late 2016, when the outgoing Obama administration abstained from a vote on the matter. USA’s strong Israeli stance is highly strategic; by supporting democracy in Israel, it has, not only prevented the nation from falling into the hands of terrorists but also has helped them to effectively combat terrorism which is a threat to the USA itself. Besides, domestic affairs were equally pressing. The pressure from the American citizens, especially the wealthy Jewish community had played a chief role in making the governments’ pro- Israel.

Despite its Jewish sympathies, the role of USA as a mediator to end the Arab-Israeli conflict cannot be denied. For years, it has tried to foster a good relationship between the two nations which would bring about peace and security for the citizens of both Israel and Palestine. From Carter’s role at the Camp David Accords in 1978 to the recently signed Abraham Accords under the Trump government, the USA has been the strongest supporter of a peaceful Middle-East.

Israel-United Arab Emirates Peace Agreement

On August 13, 2020, the monumental peace agreement between Israel and UAE was officially announced, crediting the efforts of the United States to broker such a deal. The peace agreement, also known as the Abraham Accords, normalizes diplomatic relations between the two countries and brings about cooperation on security, telecommunications, tourism, education, exchange of embassies as well as coordinated efforts in healthcare and research to combat Covid-19. Notably, Israel has also agreed to temporarily suspend the annexation of occupied parts of West Bank, which is under dispute with Palestine.