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US envoy launches working group for ambassadors representing Abraham Accords members

Nides hosts inaugural meeting with counterparts in Israel, seeking to strengthen and build on existing normalization agreements between Jewish state and its Arab neighbors

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides hosts his Emirati, Bahraini and Moroccan counterparts for the Ambassadorial Abraham Accords Working Group's inaugural meeting on January 26, 2022. (US Embassy in Israel)
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides hosts his Emirati, Bahraini and Moroccan counterparts for the Ambassadorial Abraham Accords Working Group's inaugural meeting on January 26, 2022. (US Embassy in Israel)

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides launched the Ambassadorial Abraham Accords Working Group on Wednesday, hosting his Emirati, Bahraini and Moroccan counterparts in the latest effort by the Biden administration to strengthen and build on the normalization agreements Israel has signed with its Arab neighbors.

“Just inaugurated an Ambassadorial Working Group on the #AbrahamAccords & normalization agreements — first of many meetings with our outstanding partners. Let’s get to work!” Nides wrote in a tweet that included a screenshot of the virtual meeting.

Joining him at the session were UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed al-Khaja, Bahrain Ambassador to Israel Khaled al-Jalahma, Morocco Ambassador to Israel Abderrahim Beyyoudh, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director Alon Ushpiz and a representative of the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau in Washington.

Nides pledged to make strengthening the Abraham Accords a top issue of his during his Senate confirmation hearing last September, saying he would leverage his experience in the financial sector, in particular, to help boost Israel’s economic relationships with other countries in the region.

Nides during the hearing called the Abraham Accords “critical to the region’s stability and prosperity,” but stressed that they are “not a substitute for Israel-Palestinian peace,” which is based on the “vision of a negotiated two-state solution.”

US President Joe Biden is supportive of the agreements and has taken steps to develop the new ties Israel has forged with some of its Arab neighbors, but expanding the Abraham Accords will be a taller task, as the current White House is not fond of some of the steps taken by former US president Donald Trump to coax countries into signing peace deals with Israel.

While Biden administration officials had once spoken of getting the Israel-Sudan normalization talks “over the finish line,” that agreement was put on the back burner following a coup staged by the military last October.

In the meantime, the administration appears more focused in strengthening existing agreements, hosting joint meetings with Israeli and Emirati officials. However, there have been reports of members of the administration raising Israel normalization with Saudi and Indonesian counterparts, and the Israeli and Saudi foreign ministers were among a handful of top diplomats that joined a conference call on the Omicron COVID-19 variant hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month.

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