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The Abraham Accords One Year Later: Can They Change the Middle East?

Now that some Arab leaders see Israel as part of a solution to their challenges and are unencumbered by the enmity of the past, what will it take to deepen these relationships and extend them to other states?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony at the White House after they participated in the signing of the Abraham Accords, where the countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognize Israel, in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony at the White House after they participated in the signing of the Abraham Accords, where the countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognize Israel, in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

August 13 marked the first anniversary of the breakthrough normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates—a deal followed shortly by accords with Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. In addition to strong U.S. mediation, several broader forces brought these countries together, including mutual concerns about Iran, Arab recognition of how Israeli technology could help their societies, and a desire to bolster the stability of pro-Western governments amid questions about America’s long-term commitment to the Middle East.

Now that some Arab leaders see Israel as part of a solution to their challenges and are unencumbered by the enmity of the past, what will it take to deepen these relationships and extend them to other states? How does the Palestinian issue play into this effort? And what can Washington do to strengthen the Abraham Accords?

To discuss these questions, David Makovsky hosts renowned experts Ebtesam al-Ketbi, Amos Yadlin, and Thomas Friedman.

Ebtesam al-Ketbi is founder and president of the Emirates Policy Center and the first Arab woman to lead a think tank. Additionally, she is a professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University and a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Consultative Commission.

Amos Yadlin was executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University from November 2011 to May 2021. He also served in the Israel Defense Forces for forty years, including posts with the General Staff and as chief of military intelligence.

Thomas Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnist. He has written seven New York Times bestsellers and received three Pulitzer Prizes—two for reporting from the Middle East and a third for his columns about 9/11.

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“Decision Points” is a Washington Institute podcast on key moments in Israel’s history and present. The first season focused on the history of U.S. Israel relations and the second season focused on key Israeli and Arab leaders. The third season focuses on Israel’s toughest contemporary policy dilemmas.

The host, David Makovsky, is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow in The Washington Institute’s Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship and director of the Koret Project on Arab-Israel Relations. He is a former senior advisor to the U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, as well as a sought-after expert in U.S.-Israel diplomatic relations and territorial solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Guests include Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.; Natan Sharansky, a human rights activist and former Israeli government minister; David Petraeus, former CIA Director; and Tzipi Livni, former Israeli Foreign Minister.

The podcast is both a history lesson and an exploration of contemporary policy decisions impacting Israel, the United States, and the Middle East at large.

Subscribe to “Decision Points” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen.

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