It could also be utterly coincidental that one of many most important adverts for Expo 2020, which opened Sept. 30 in Dubai, featured an Israeli flag proper over the pinnacle of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, the strongest particular person within the United Arab Emirates. Coincidental or not, it actually was symbolic. A flag that within the not-too-distant previous couldn’t be flown within the Emirates in any respect is now proper on the heart of issues – and positively within the heart of financial affairs.
And the identical is true of Bahrain as effectively. In fast succession, these two international locations broke a decades-long coverage amongst Gulf states by signing normalization agreements with Israel — as a result of it was in their very own pursuits.
The most vital of those pursuits are undoubtedly financial and business. The Abraham Accords are the clearest instance of integrating economics and diplomatic coverage. Israel merely wanted a possibility to see this by, and received it because of an particularly pleasant US administration and a rising Iranian menace, which solely intensified (in Israeli and different regional eyes) by the 2015 nuclear settlement.
The numbers inform the story greatest. Data from the Israeli Chamber of Commerce exhibits that from January to July 2021, commerce between Israel and the UAE got here to $270 million (and over $610 million, when diamonds are added to the determine). This is almost 3 times greater than the $94 million in all of 2020 ($190 million with diamonds). Trade with the UAE in June 2021 was over 20 occasions greater than in June 2020, amounting to $150 million (together with diamonds) in a single month.
A member of one of many eight wealthiest households within the UAE informed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity that monetary forecasts by economists employed by his household’s agency imagine that the potential for commerce between the 2 international locations may reach $three billion by 2024 and $10 billion inside a decade. Israel’s whole worldwide commerce every year quantities to approximately $120 billion.
From a strategic, diplomatic, and army perspective, the Abraham Accord diverted consideration from the Palestinian downside, which had, till then, impeded any progress in Israel’s relations with its neighbors. The signing went hand in hand with then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cancelled plan to annex West Bank settlements.
The heat welcome that Israelis have acquired since then within the UAE and Bahrain, and that their residents have acquired in Israel, is not only a optimistic instance of cultural tourism. It alerts the Gulf states’ option to sideline the Palestinian problem and kind a strategic alliance with the nation that has the strongest army capacities within the area. Israel might help them stand as much as the one neighborhood bully, who continues to threaten them – Iran.
The American withdrawal from Afghanistan signaled that the US might not at all times be there for average states of the area. Thus, Israeli safety assist, each open and covert, is vital in lots of fields within the Gulf area, from cyber warfare to the sharing of intelligence to the sale of weapons methods, even when there are nonetheless impediments to the latter.
There are monumental strategic advantages from the deal, which present Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have promised to proceed. A prime Israeli official concerned in army assessments and technique, talking to Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity, stated that this alliance gives Israel a a lot nearer glimpse of what’s taking place only a few dozen kilometers throughout the Gulf from Iran. Even if Israel will not be there in particular person, its new allies may function its eyes and ears. This can be a big shift within the stability of energy with Iran.
Lapid paid an official go to the Emirates in June, and visited Bahrain Sept. 30 — in each circumstances, to inaugurate Israel’s new embassies. In Bahrain, he additionally visited the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet and stated, “Israel, Bahrain, and the US are partners in liberty and in a vision of a free world.”
These agreements not directly show how shut Israel actually is to the United States, which is considered one of Israel’s best strengths. Netanyahu took benefit of this shut relationship as a lot as he may in the course of the Trump presidency. In reality, it was modifications in coverage launched by Trump at Netanyahu’s request which in the end led to the signing of those agreements. Even if this affect has declined considerably beneath the present administration, it stays extraordinarily useful to Israel, notably in Third World nations, which want an attentive ear in Washington.
Israel’s ambassador to the UAE, Eitan Na’eh, says that the settlement between Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE relies primarily on the financial, business and civic advantages. Without the coronavirus pandemic, he stated, commerce can be much more superior. “We used the last year to get to know the other side better,” Na’eh said. “This was a mutual process. The Emiratis are long-term planners. They are thorough and cautious. The current assessment is that the economic potential of these agreements could amount to tens of billions of dollars in just a few years.”
Back in Expo 2021, the reveals within the Israeli pavilion have been ready by totally different ministries, with an emphasis on agriculture, power, and cyber methods. They have all been met with appreciable curiosity. The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem attributes this to a particular tour of the pavilion earlier than it formally opened for 30 senior journalists from the Gulf and on-line opinion shapers from throughout the Arab world.
The spokesman for the Israeli pavilion on the Dubai Expo informed journalists that the host nation has offered the whole lot it wanted. It can be value noting that the Palestinian pavilion is only a quick distance away from the Israeli pavilion. This appears to be saying that whereas the Palestinian-Israeli battle has but to be resolved, maybe the time has come for the Palestinians to benefit from the financial advantages of a peace settlement with Israel and the normalization of relations.