Expatica news

Israel’s new ties with Arab states

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to make his first official visit to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, we look at how Israel has normalised ties with former Arab rivals.

The changes came through the “Abraham Accords” brokered by former US president Donald Trump last year.

– ‘Huge breakthrough’ –

In a surprise announcement on August 13, 2020, former US president Donald Trump says Israel and the UAE have reached an agreement to normalise relations.

In a tweet he hails a “HUGE breakthrough” and a “Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends”.

Netanyahu says the agreement means “a new era began in the relations between Israel and the Arab world”.

Egypt and Jordan had previously recognised Israel in peace deals struck decades ago.

The UAE says Israel agreed to “suspend” annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, but Netanyahu says it has simply been put off.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas calls the deal a “betrayal” of their cause and their claim to east Jerusalem as a capital of their future state.

– ‘Stab in the back’ –

On September 11, Trump announces that Bahrain and Israel will also normalise ties.

Four days later, the UAE and Bahrain sign the Abraham Accords at the White House.

The Palestinians condemn the agreements as a “stab in the back”.

Weeks later, Israel approves plans for 4,948 more settler homes in the West Bank.

– Sudan too, in principle –

On October 23, Sudan announces plans to normalise ties with Israel as Trump agrees to remove Khartoum from Washington’s state sponsors of terror blacklist.

Trump says that “at least five more” Arab countries want to normalise their relations with Israel.

– Secret Saudi visit? –

Reports on November 23 that Netanyahu made a secret visit to Saudi Arabia also spark a flurry of speculation.

The kingdom denies that a meeting took place with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A peace deal with Riyadh, which has said it would stick to the decades-old Arab League position of not establishing ties with Israel until its conflict with the Palestinians is resolved, would be a massive diplomatic prize.

– Morocco breakthrough –

Morocco normalises ties with Israel on December 10 in a diplomatic quid pro quo, that sees Washington back Moroccan rule over the disputed Western Sahara region.

Unlike the other countries, Rabat had previously maintained formal contact with Israel, but closed its liaison office in Tel Aviv in 2000, at the start of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

– Khartoum pens deal –

Sudan’s transitional government signs the “Abraham Accords” on January 6, 2021 agreeing to normalise ties with Israel, two weeks before Trump leaves office.

Khartoum has said the deal will only come into force after it is approved by a yet-to-be-formed parliament.