deal or no deal

Mideast leaders talk Abraham Accords on sidelines of UNGA

UAE foreign policy adviser: ‘​​Were the Abraham Accords envisioned to solve the Palestinian issue? It wasn’t’

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King of Jordan Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein arrives to address the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at U.N. headquarters on September 19, 2023 in New York City.

King Abdullah II of Jordan said on Wednesday that he hopes an Israeli-Saudi normalization deal could bring the region “to a new horizon” but warned against creating a deal that ignores the Palestinians, chastising those in the Arab world who believe “that you can parachute over Palestine and deal with the Arabs.”

His remarks came at a glitzy confab, hosted at Manhattan’s Academy Mansion on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly by the publications Semafor and Al-Monitor, that saw some other Middle Eastern leaders express more skepticism toward greater Israeli integration into the region. 

“I think the key challenge for a sustainable peace and security in the region,” said Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al-Busaidi, is “the unresolved question of Palestine,” adding that “there is no other way” for Israel to reach peace in the region if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues. Al-Busaidi also praised the state of the country’s relationship with Iran and urged Western nations to make progress in nuclear negotiations, calling the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action “the best thing we had.”

Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar said the country is not considering any agreement with Israel so long as Israel and the Palestinians have not reached any kind of resolution. 

“The lives of Palestinians is for us something which is sacred, like the life of everyone,” said Ammar. (Ammar also brushed aside suggestions that Tunisian President Kais Saied was antisemitic when Saied said that the name of Mediterranean Storm Daniel, which created widespread destruction in Libya, was selected “because the Zionist movement has infiltrated minds and thinking.”)

Their comments diverged from a major new statement offered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who on Wednesday said, in an interview with Fox News, that “every day we get closer” to a Saudi-Israel normalization deal. The “Palestinian issue is very important,” bin Salman added.

Anwar Gargash, a top foreign policy advisor in the United Arab Emirates, offered a telling statement at Wednesday event as to how the Gulf nation, which normalized ties with Israel in the 2020 Abraham Accords, views the Palestinian cause: “​​Were the Abraham Accords envisioned to solve the Palestinian issue? It wasn’t,” said Gargash. “We had all our leverage with the Palestinians, gave them cheque blanc, and they haven’t done anything.”

Gargash acknowledged that “far-right policies of the Israeli government” are putting normalization “through a difficult time right now.” But, he added, “the government of the day will change,” and “the Abrahamic Accords are something that we will continue regardless of what is the government of the day.” 

In a Wednesday meeting, President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both pledged to work together toward Israeli-Saudi normalization. 

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