Abracadabra! Let There Be Peace!
Magicians have the gift of misdirection. They make us focus on the inconsequential; and when we least expect it, abracadabra! Out of nowhere, they seemingly do the impossible and leave us wondering, How did they do that?
I wondered the same thing in August when President Trump announced the Abraham Accord, a Middle East peace deal brokered between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Honestly, I was so busy staring at what turned out to be the “No Deal of the Century” between Israel and the Palestinians that I did a double take when the Abraham Accord seemed to appear out of thin air.
This historic peace agreement is named after the biblical patriarch Abraham who is said to have fathered the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Prior to August, Israel and the UAE had no diplomatic relations. Now they are set to forge bilateral agreements on energy, tourism, direct air travel, investments, security, communications, and technology—along with establishing full ambassadorial ties. The very thought that an Israeli could board a direct flight to vacation or do business in Abu Dhabi is astonishing.
Since its establishment in 1948, the Jewish state has been willing to partner with any of the 22 countries in the Arab world. However, only Egypt (1979), Jordan (1994), and now the UAE took the plunge. As we went to press, Bahrain joined them.
Much has changed in the Middle East in the 26 years since the last peace agreement.
Arab leaders have lost patience with the Palestinians and their intransigent stand against Israel. As the Palestinians focused on rejecting peace, certain Arab countries and Israel surreptitiously opened lines of communication. Many diplomatic benefits were already being put in place prior to the Abraham Accord, but collaboration was hush-hush so Muslim countries could maintain allegiance to the Palestinian cause.
For instance, Jordan depends on Israel for water and security. Egypt and Israel partner to quell al-Qaeda in Sinai, as well as Palestinian movement between Egypt and Gaza. In 2018 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic visit to Oman, and Morocco purchased Israeli drones. Sudan took steps to normalize relations with Israel in early 2020; and the foreign minister of Bahrain shrugged his shoulders after Israel launched an airstrike against Iran munitions in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, calling it self-defense. Saudi Arabia and the UAE encouraged the Palestinians to embrace Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan, but to no avail.
Despite these developments, the Middle East has not become pro-Israel. A shocking Pew Research poll revealed that most Muslim nations have an extremely unhealthy, unfavorable view of the Jewish people. However, leaders in the Middle East are settling into the reality that Iran is a greater threat to the region than Israel.
The UAE is the first nonadjacent neighbor to strike a type of land-for-peace deal with the Jewish state. Because of the accord, Israel suspended its plan to annex portions of Judea and Samaria. And as Trump and Netanyahu touted a new path forward, Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed painted a different picture: He said he stopped Israeli annexation.
The Abraham Accord is unprecedented and important. But again, the nations are at work dividing the land God has given to the Jewish people. The prophet Joel said the Lord will judge the nations for their treatment of God’s Chosen People and for how “they have also divided up My land” (Joel 3:2).
Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to pray the accord brings stability to this hostile area of the world and is good for Israel.