Not supporting the Abraham Accord was a mistake, says Abbas


What happened: Mansour Abbas, the leader of Islamic United Arab List (UAL / Ra’am) has reflected on his view of the Abraham Accords.

  • Abbas was speaking to the US-based Washington Institute where he admitted it was a mistake not to vote in favour of the agreements.
  • He explained that at the time when the Abraham Accords were brought to the Knesset to be ratified, his party was part of the Joint List and as such was committed to factional discipline to vote as a block.
  • In internal discussions he expressed the view that they should be supported but was overruled by his partners in the Joint List.
  • He confirmed that he sees the agreements as a positive development and though his priorities are on domestic issues, he is keen to support the tightening of relations between Israel and the Arab world.
  • Over the weekend Bahrain confirmed that an IDF naval officer would be permanently stationed in the country to enhance cooperation between Bahrain and Israel.
  • The IDF officer will be responsible for coordinating security cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Bahrain and the US Fifth Fleet also based in Bahrain.

Context: Abbas explained that when the Abraham Accords were signed, he was part of the Joint List comprising of four ideologically diverse parties; Hadash, the communists, Balad the Arab nationalists, Tal “half nationalists” and Ra’am.

  • At the end of last year, Abbas recognised Israel as a Jewish state. He said: “The State of Israel was born as a Jewish state. It is the decision of the people and the question is not what the identity of the state is. It was born this way and will remain that way.”
  • Drawing from this experience, he understood that if you want to make a change, it can’t be done in those confounds if you cannot stand up for what you believe in.
  • When asked about the Amnesty report, Abbas said he would not call Israel “apartheid”, adding: “I prefer to describe the reality in objective ways. If there’s discrimination in a certain area, then we’ll say that there’s discrimination in that specific area.”
  • The naval appointment was a result of the agreement reached last week when Defence Minister Benny Gantz visited Bahrain and signed a security cooperation agreement.
  • The new regional military cooperation has been made possible now that Israel is under the US CENTCOM structure.
  • The IDF officer will join an international coalition 34 countries that guarantee maritime freedom in the Gulf.
  • Among the 34 are countries that do not yet have diplomatic relations with Israel, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan.

Looking ahead: The IDF is expected to send an officer to Bahrain in the next few weeks, in what will be the first permanent IDF representative to serve in a Persian Gulf country.

  • Following the agreement with Bahrain, Israel could next sign a security memorandum of understanding with the UAE.
  • In another positive regional development, Lebanese media suggests that Israel and Lebanon could soon reach an agreement to define their maritime border.