Syllabus: GS2/ International Relations
- Three years since the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain marks an important milestone for West Asia and North Africa.
What are the Abraham Accords?
- Abraham Accords are a series of agreements to normalize relations between Israel and several Arab states.
- The accords are named after the patriarch Abraham regarded as a prophet in Judaism and Islam.
- The accords, all of which were signed in the latter half of 2020, consist of a general declaration alongside bilateral agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.
- The accord has normalised the relations between many West Asian countries and Israel.
- UAE became the third Arab nation to recognize Israel after Egypt and Jordan.
- It has given India a diplomatic leeway to enhance its engagement with Israel.
Background and Context
- Arab-Israeli ties have historically been conflict-ridden.
- Arab countries, including Egypt, Transjordan, Syria and Iraq, fought their first war with Israel in 1948 after the formation of the state of Israel was announced.
- The war ended with Israel capturing more territories, including West Jerusalem that was originally proposed for a Jewish state by the UN Partition Plan.
- After that, Israel and Arab states fought three more significant wars: the 1956 Suez conflict, the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
- Egypt made a peace deal with Israel in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994.
- In February 2019, the U.S. brokered a security conference in Warsaw to build a global strategy against Iran.
- The meeting brought leaders from Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and several other countries.
- Following this conference, in August 2019, the U.S. arranged secret talks between the UAE and Israel.
- These meetings laid the foundations for the agreement.
Significance of the Abraham Accords
- The Abraham Accords were a product of collaboration between our nations towards the normalisation of ties, bringing Israel closer to the Gulf nations that shared common values and mutual interests, and taking forward the peace initiative.
- The agreements have ushered in a new era of normalisation and peace that connects governments and brings people together, despite the differences in their language, religious beliefs, cultures and more.
- The scope of trade between Israel and other West Asian countries increased 74% between 2021 and 2022.
- The tourism opportunities have skyrocketed. In 2021, visits from Israel to the UAE increased by 172%. Meanwhile, the number of Israelis flying to Bahrain since the establishment of direct flights has increased exponentially.
- In a region where 65% of the population is under 30 years of age, providing the younger generation with opportunities is a key factor in preventing instability. The Abraham Accords encourage collaboration and education. In the summer of 2022, Ben-Gurion University welcomed students from Morocco. Additionally, a number of Emirati students have enrolled in Israeli universities.
Benefits for Indians
The agreement between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE has improved not just regional ties but has also brought better opportunities for Indians.
- Eased Connectivity: The vibrant Indian diaspora in the Gulf now has the convenience of direct flights between the UAE and Israel, as well as between Israel and Bahrain.
- Indian students are enjoying increased ease of travel, gaining improved access to universities and the opportunity to explore international study programmes.
- Economic opportunities for India: It established substantial commercial collaborations between companies from the UAE, Israel, Bahrain, and the U.S., partnering with the Indian private sector.
- New joint ventures among Bahrain, Israel, UAE and India are being undertaken in critical sectors such as clean energy, health, innovation, technology, and agriculture.
- Formation of I2U2 Group: The Abraham Accords made the I2U2 Group possible, and its primary focus will be on joint investments in critical areas such as water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.
- In turn, these projects will also greatly benefit the people of India.
- Technology cooperation: There is potential for India, UAE, and Israel to collaborate in many areas — from space to defence technology.
- Peace and Stability in West Asia: Agreement opens the opportunities for the first big rapprochement between adversaries in West Asia—Israel and the Arab This would open new doors for India’s role in the region.
- Lack of cooperation: Despite the initial goal of the Arab organizers, cooperation among Israel and its Arab partners has failed to produce tangible improvements in the Israeli-Palestinian calculus.
- Failing to bring new members: The scope of the Abraham Accords has also failed to bring in new members. Despite some softening in its position on bilateral relations, including in the area of defence cooperation and the opening of its airspace to Israeli aviation, Saudi Arabia has held firm in its commitment to the pre-existing Arab Peace Initiative (API).
- India is one of the important partners, and the breadth of cooperation reflects mutual interests like championing a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding trade, addressing climate change, and combating threats to international security and stability.