The first anniversary of the Abraham Accords

September 22, 2021

By Haim Regev

In these challenging times, it is natural to seek out beacons of hope and optimism. Luckily for us, we do not have to look so far. This week, we mark one year of the historic event in which Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the US-brokered peace agreements known as the Abraham Accords.

The signing of the Accords was a historic, watershed moment for the Middle East that marked the beginning of an entirely new chapter for the region. It represents a decision to build a future together that will benefit all of our peoples.

More than that, the Abraham Accords represent a revolutionary kind of peace. It is a new paradigm that is filtering down from national leaders through to every aspect of society, and is now thriving between people, societies, and cultures.

These agreements proved that Israel is an integral and permanent part of the Middle East with much to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region. The importance of connections between people cannot be underestimated.

As foreign minister Yair Lapid said during the inauguration of the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi "agreements are signed by leaders, but peace is made between people".

The benefits of peace cannot be denied. Since the first direct flights linking Tel Aviv with Dubai (November 2020) and Abu Dhabi (April 2021), hundreds of thousands of Israeli tourists and businesspeople have visited the UAE and Bahrain, connecting peoples and cultures like never before.

More than 55 agreements between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain are currently underway - half of them have already been signed and implemented. These agreements lay the foundation for practical cooperation in almost all fields including: finance, communications, economy, culture, tourism, taxation, investment protection, freedom of movement, water, agriculture and energy.

Between January and July 2021, trade between Israel and the UAE surged to $613.9m [€524m] and that is just the beginning. The enormous economic benefits of the peace accords have become rapidly apparent, as all sides have gained from the fruits of peace.

All of these developments and many more have been accomplished within just one year. Considering the restraints imposed by the global coronavirus pandemic over this past year, we can only imagine what the future holds.

EU role?

A month ago, I arrived to Brussels as Israel's new ambassador to the EU and Nato. Before that, and for almost five years, I served as the director of the Middle East and Peace Process division at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs.

My main mission was to build Israeli-Arab contacts and relations and I was fortunate to lead the efforts of opening Israeli Embassies in Abu Dhabi, Manama, and Rabat . I am looking forward to continuing the work of improving and strengthening multilateral and bilateral ties of Israel in the Middle East , this time with the EU's involvement.

The EU can play a key role in the region by supporting trilateral projects, promoting its values, sponsoring people-to-people dialogue and fostering peace in the Middle East. The EU can join Israel and its moderate neighbours to write a new page in the history books.

Israel believes in peace and yearns for peaceful ties with all of its neighbours.

The Middle East is our home, and we call on all countries of the region to recognise this fact and engage in a dialogue with us. We believe that we will be able to resolve the conflict and establish peaceful coexistence with our immediate neighbours, the Palestinians. The accords pave the way to this goal, and also serve to effectively consolidate the moderate forces in the Middle East.

The Abraham Accords have brought more than just beacons of hope and optimism to the Middle East, they brought a new reality that will improve the welfare of our populations and bring security and prosperity to all.

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