The announcement that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain have agreed to bilaterally normalize their relations with Israel has marked a watershed in Gulf-Israeli relations and has laid the groundwork for a new balance of power in the Middle East. Portrayed as “historic” by the American President Donald Trump in his tweets, this unexpected but not very unpredictable move could be read as the culmination of a geopolitical alignment that has been covertly but steadily redrawing the map of Middle Eastern alliances over the last years. In return for holding on standby Netanyahu’s plan for annexing the West Bank territories, the Abraham Accords will also pave the way for stronger political, economic, and military cooperation between the actors involved. Nevertheless, while the benefits of the Abraham Accords should not be downplayed, many experts agree that they could also deepen many of the already-existing political fault lines in the region, starting with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as the latter now find themselves more isolated than ever. Besides, the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Trump administration, the pact’s leading international supporter, casts doubts on any potential further development.
- What is the strategic relevance of the Abraham Accords? How could they affect the geopolitical order of the Middle East?
- Are there any chances that other GCC or Arab countries will follow and normalize relations with Tel Aviv? How could other regional powers (namely Iran and Turkey) react to this trend?
- What do these diplomatic agreements tell us about the future of Washington’s influence and stance in the region? Which impact would the US November elections have on this development?
- Which possibilities are left for the Palestinians? How could they react towards the winners?
Ugo Tramballi, Senior Advisor, ISPI
Cinzia Bianco, Visiting Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
Khaled Elgindy, Senior Fellow, Director of Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs, MEI
Nimrod Goren, Head, Mitvim Institute – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
Aaron David Miller, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace