How the Biden administration can advance Arab-Israeli peace
For decades, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been widely viewed as a stagnant dispute at the heart of instability in the Arab world. However, 10 years after the so-called Arab Spring, the centrality of the conflict weakened as leaders in the region began to accept Israel as a potential partner in ensuring security and economic viability. This new willingness to openly engage the Jewish state can be bolstered by a unique set of US foreign policy instruments capable of promoting partnerships with the private sector in the Middle East in ways previously impossible.
History Abraham’s Agreements signed last fall, which paved the way for the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world, and the ambitious Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, which provides monetary incentives to encourage Israeli-Palestinian collaboration, are two such instruments available to the Biden administration. If used strategically, these foreign policy tools can foster Arab-Israeli cooperation and advance the economic conditions necessary to lay the foundations for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
International engagement has long fostered new avenues of development and interdependence. The Marshall Plan helped rebuild Europe after WWII. The International Fund for Ireland has contributed more than $ 1 billion to projects promoting reconciliation and cooperation between nationalists and trade unionists.
The Abrahamic Accords, which established official relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan (awaiting final signing), have already shown intensity and d heat previously unknown in the region. Israeli advancements in technology, healthcare, agriculture, and renewable energy combine with Arab ingenuity, sovereign wealth funds and vision to create new synergies and investments.
At the end of January, the Dubai Media Office announcement that trade between the UAE and Israel reached $ 272 million in just five months. Sultan ben Sulayem, the CEO of Dubai Ports World, expects trade with Israel to exceed $ 4 billion over the next few years and generate more than 15,000 jobs.
In December 2020, Congress passed the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (Lowey Fund). This bipartite bill, promulgated by President TrumpDonald Trump Julian Castro overthrows Biden administration on refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment – League of Conservation Voters – Climate summit chief says US must “show progress” on environment Five takeaways from the Arizona PLUS audit results, allocates $ 250 million over five years to expand peace and reconciliation programs in Israel and the West Bank / Gaza while strengthening the Palestinian economy through private sector engagement – with the aim of creating the conditions necessary for support a two-state solution. The Lowey Fund represents a bold attempt to energize the Palestinian market and empower civil society to cultivate interdependence and trust between Israelis and Palestinians.
The fund will provide support for USAID to underwrite people-to-people programs in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, and will empower the US International Development Finance Corporation to create financial incentives using loans, guarantees, equity and insurance to increase investment between Israelis and Palestinian entrepreneurs. The money will only be given to private organizations; governments are not eligible. Ultimately, the fund’s investments are aimed at generating popular support for political steps on both sides towards a pragmatic compromise and a viable peace.
While each instrument is revolutionary, the full power of the Abraham Accords and the Lowey Fund will emerge when applied together, unleashing their potential as a catalyst for the future of an integrated and symbiotic Middle East.
The Abrahamic Accords shattered the idea that Israelis and Arabs cannot make peace without first resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet the Arabs’ concerns for the Palestinians are likely to remain a constraint on expanding the Arab-Israeli peace circle – unless it can be shown that it also benefits the Palestinians.
The Lowey Fund will not solve the final status issues associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and its success will not resuscitate the Arab Peace Initiative. But it could demonstrate to the Arab world that Israelis and Palestinians can work together to strengthen a declining Palestinian economy. In doing so, the Lowey Fund can be the perfect complement to overcome Arab apprehensions by showcasing the Israeli partnership to improve the livelihoods of Palestinians and lay the foundations for a future viable state.
The Lowey Fund and the Abraham Accords offer a new path forward. Arab states working with Israel, as Israelis and Palestinians move towards interdependence, can ensure that all future Arab-Israeli successes will also be Palestinian successes. It can lay the groundwork for a new, more widely supported peace process.
In the past, many experts have questioned whether one resolves the Arab-Israeli conflict by first resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (the inside-out approach), or whether one resolves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by first resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict (outside-inside). In reality, it seems that peace will not be achieved by pursuing one approach rather than another, but by recognizing the importance of building trust and commercial ties – and, gradually, political success – made possible by one Medium -Orient more interconnected.
Last year’s transformational changes in the Middle East and the launch of a U.S. fund to promote cooperation present a rare opportunity for diplomatic success for the Biden administration.
Benjamin Rogers is director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) for Middle East and North Africa Initiatives. Follow on Twitter @AJCGlobal.