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May 18, 2021
No, the Gaza flare-up didn’t kill Trump’s wildly successful Abraham Accords

By: Matthew R.J. Brodsky, Senior Fellow

Originally appeared in the NYPost:

America’s foreign-policy establishment and peace-process industry are having a field day: The latest round of fighting between Israel and the terror group Hamas, they insist, has sounded the death knell for the Abraham Accords, the Trump-brokered peace treaties between the Jewish state and several Muslim nations.

Leading the Schadenfreude Brigade was White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who on Tuesday declared from her podium: “We don’t think [the accords] did anything constructive, really, to bring an end to the longstanding conflict in the Middle East.” The peace-processors failed for decades to make Mideast progress, and the Gaza flare-up gives them and their DC mouthpieces (like Psaki) a cheap chance to crow, “I told you so.”

Reality disagrees, however.

The monumental agreements signed last year will continue to flourish, because their foundations remain solid — whereas doing things the peace-processors’ way will return America to the failures of the past.

The peace-process industry (or syndicate) represents the elite’s thinking on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the wider Middle East. It is composed of former diplomats, left-leaning think tanks, nearly all of corporate media and academia and the wealthy donor class that underwrites their work.

The maverick Trump administration’s Mideast breakthroughs in the final months of 2020 gravely threatened the interests of this group. After all, the Abraham Accords challenged several key assumptions of the peace-processors: above all, the notion that Arab reconciliation with Israel could only be achieved after resolving the Palestinian question.

This belief springs from the false notion that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the central drama of the region, linking it to all other problems, which will finally find their panacea only in a “two-state” solution.

Equally destructive is the peace-processors’ belief that a solution can be found by leveling the playing field between America’s regional allies and bad actors like the Palestinians. Put simply, they believe that for negotiations to succeed, Israel must be weakened, while Palestinian leaders must be empowered. There is no evidence for why this should be the case, but that hasn’t stopped peace-processors from summiting the commanding heights of American foreign policy for decades.

It’s easy to see how President Donald Trump and his advisers wounded the egos of these processors with the Abraham Accords. The accords started from diametrically opposed assumptions: that the Palestinian drama isn’t central to the region and that diplomacy requires bolstering, rather than weakening, allies. And they succeeded brilliantly.

The accords won’t soon die, because all of the structural reasons that made them possible remain intact. For starters, the Iranian threat that impelled Arab leaders to embrace their former archenemy, Israel, is still there.

Plus, the economic benefits of the rapprochement are too tangible to ignore, including opportunities in tourism, civil aviation, science, technology and innovation, energy, water, environment and agriculture, food security and more.

Then, too, the Arab elite increasingly views Jews as indigenous to the region. Both the UAE and Bahrain correctly pride themselves as nations of tolerance, and they take pride in extending that tolerance to the region’s Jews. Communications technology is also fostering more dialogue and relationships beyond the control of diplomats or the state.

While Arab leaders sympathize with the Palestinian people, the accords showed that Mideast states have wearied of a corrupt and intransigent Palestinian leadership. For four years leading up to the accords, the unmistakable message to Palestinians and their leaders was that the proverbial train was leaving the station, and it was in their interest to get on board, rather than cling to the slogans of the past; the Palestinians didn’t get the message.

These fundamental dynamics remain beyond the grasp of the dangerously deluded peace-process industry, which remains bent on pulling the region backward, all to fit its disproved theories. There is plenty of more work to be done to expand the peace and normalization framework. This work will continue, regardless of predictable regional forces that periodically lash out and in spite of those who gleefully mistake this beginning for the end.

Matthew RJ Brodsky, a former adviser to the Trump administration’s Middle East peace team, is a senior fellow at the Gold Institute for International Strategy.