Middle East | 28 September 2020

Israel/UAE/Bahrain/USA: Palestinians feel betrayed by "˜Abraham Accords"

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The US government is calling the so-called "Abraham Accords" signed by Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and the USA at the White House on 15 September 2020, an historic peace agreement, as reported by BBC News on 14 September 2020. Michael Bosch, persecution analyst at World Watch Research, points out that this agreement differs greatly from Israel"s earlier agreements with Egypt and Jordan:
  • "First, the "˜Abraham Accords" are not a peace agreement, but a formalization of growing ties between the four nations.
  • Secondly, whereas Israel"s peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt focused on ending hostilities, this deal aims at developing further collaboration, including the sharing of high technology.
  • Thirdly, by giving the deal a quasi-religious title, it is being presented as an interreligious agreement between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. This fits the UAE's (and indeed all Gulf countries") advances in interreligious dialogue, which in Gulf terms is understood to be on a par with improving diplomatic relations with the West.
  • Fourthly, on the geopolitical level, this accord seeks to strengthen the UAE-Saudi Arabia block against both the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah (Shiite) axis and the Turkey-Qatar (Sunni Islamist) axis."
Michael Bosch continues: "This deal does not attempt to solve any of the ongoing conflicts in the wider Middle East in which the parties are involved (e.g. in Libya and Yemen). But, interestingly, it does indicate Gulf countries are beginning to normalize ties without taking the Palestinian situation into consideration. The previous stance of all Arab countries was that normalization of diplomatic ties with Israel could not take place without Israel first ending the occupation of the Palestinian Territories: This is now history - and Palestinians are feeling betrayed. For Palestinian Christians, it means that Israeli/Palestinian hostility will continue to make their lives and that of their churches difficult." Michael Bosch adds: "Despite the disappointment for Palestinian Christians, the deal is good news for Christians in the UAE and Bahrain. The recognition of Israel and the Jewish people indicates a step away from intolerance and a step towards the further toleration of other non-Muslim groups. However, any optimism that Freedom of Religion and Belief is just around the corner is unfounded: Proselytizing remains forbidden and conversion from Islam to Christianity difficult or even impossible for ordinary Bahrainis and Emiratis."


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