All Israeli parties back the Abraham Accords, Herzog tells bin Zayed

“The Abraham Accords are a national consensus in the State of Israel, for all parties and for all factions of Israeli politics,” Herzog said.

(L-R) Israeli President Isaac Herzog with Emirati president Mohamed Bin-Zayed (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
(L-R) Israeli President Isaac Herzog with Emirati president Mohamed Bin-Zayed
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

ABU DHABI - There is a broad political consensus in Israel about the importance of maintaining the Abraham Accords, Herzog told his Emirati counterpart when he met him briefly in Abu Dhabi after visiting Bahrain and before returning to Israel from his two-day trip to the Gulf.

The Abraham Accords are a national consensus in the State of Israel, for all parties and for all factions of Israeli politics,” Herzog told President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan GCMG during a private meeting between the two of them at the latter’s home.

“After two years of the Abraham Accords, when we took off so beautifully, now we need to reach cruising altitude, meaning upgrading the relationship even further and strengthening it,” Herzog said.

Bin Zayed said that Herzog’s visit “really means a lot to us” and that “we are trying to build a very strong bridge between our two countries, and I think we have built a very strong bridge that we are both proud of.”

Upon his arrival that morning, Herzog landed in Abu Dhabi and was warmly greeted by Emirati Foreign Minister HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the two sat and spoke in the airport. 

 President Isaac Herzog lands in Abu Dhabi for a presidential visit. (credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO) President Isaac Herzog lands in Abu Dhabi for a presidential visit. (credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

At the airport, a gray carpet was laid out for Herzog as guards in traditional dress, including sheathed knives strapped to their stomachs, stood at attention on both sides.

The two leaders met in August when Al Nahyan was in Israel.

Herzog paused in Abu Dhabi to speak with Israeli reporters who were traveling with him to the Emirates on Monday and to Bahrain on Sunday, where he became the first Israeli president to visit the country.

While in Manama, he met with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

Herzog’s trip was designed to energize the Abraham Accords, now in their third year. Under their auspices, Israel normalized ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, although relations with the latter country have lagged behind the others.

The Abraham Accords countries were taking a look at what has gone right over the past two years to better understand how to move forward in the future, Herzog said.

His visit came at a significant moment domestically for Israel, when Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is set to form a new government.

Herzog told reporters it was important to maintain the momentum of the Abraham Accords and that Israeli leaders must take that challenge seriously.

“There has been a paradigm shift in the dialogue between nations and peoples,” he said. “Israel’s top echelon needs to understand that this challenge continues. The challenge of the Abraham Accords is certainly important to everyone, and everyone understands it. There is a historic change that has taken place. That is why this visit was very important.”

A senior official in Herzog’s delegation said Bahrain and the UAE want “to be part of a regional federation. [It’s] all the leaders are talking about. This will necessitate an [Israeli] government effort to move toward more regional cooperation with more countries.”

Herzog said both Israel and Bahrain “want to upgrade the agreements and are looking to add more countries” to the Abraham Accords. In most of his public statements throughout the trip, he mentioned the possibility of additional normalization agreements with Arab countries.

Herzog did not specify which other Arab countries could normalize ties with Israel, but there has been speculation about the possibility of both Saudi Arabia and Oman coming on board. Kuwait remains a remote possibility, with Qatar not necessarily seeming so feasible despite Israelis being allowed to participate in the FIFA World Cup now taking place there.

With Saudi Arabia, the leadership has been interested, but the process of getting its citizens on board has been more complicated. The Saudis also want to receive more from the US in exchange.

For countries such as Bahrain and the UAE, however, Israel provides an economic and security advantage that they want to maximize now, although the momentum needs to be maintained.

Of particular importance to Bahrain and the UAE is the need for a strategic alliance with Israel against Iran, particularly given the proximity of the Gulf countries to the Islamic Republic.

Herzog also spoke of the specific connection Bahrain feels to the Jewish people, particularly by the monarchs who have had a history of acting as the community’s protectors.

Economic investment is also important, a senior official in the delegation said.

“Bahrain sees itself as a gateway to the Far East, to India, to China, to the Arab world, particularly with respect to the transportation of goods,” the official said.

Economic success was significant in helping shore up public support for the Abraham Accords, the official said. The leaders of the Abraham Accords countries “want to show the fruits of peace to their peoples,” he added.

While in Manama he met with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, HRH Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

Herzog’s trip was designed to energize the accords, now in their third year. Under their auspices Israel normalized ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, although relations with the latter country has lagged behind the others.

The accord countries are taking a look at what has gone right in the last two years to better understand how to move forward in the future, Herzog explained.

His visit also came at a significant moment domestically for Israel when incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to form a new government. 

Herzog told reporters that it was important to maintain the momentum of the accords and Israeli leaders must take that challenge seriously, he said.

“There has been a paradigm shift in the dialogue between nations and peoples,” Herzog said.

“Israel’s top echelon needs to understand that this challenge continues. The challenge of the Abraham Accords is certainly important to everyone and everyone understands it. There is a historic change that has taken place,” Herzog said. 

“That is why this visit was very important” for both countries, he added. 

A senior official in Herzog’s delegation said that Bahrain and the UAE want “to be part of a regional federation. Al the leaders are talking about. This will necessitate a [Israeli] government effort to move towards more regional cooperation with more countries.”

Herzog explained that both Israel and Bahrain “want to upgrade the agreements and are looking to add more countries” to the accords, he said. He mentioned the possibility of additional normalization agreements with Arab countries in most of his public statements throughout the trip.

Herzog did not specify which other Arab countries could normalize ties with Israeli, but speculation has long been high about the possibility of both Saudi Arabia and Oman coming on board, Kuwait remains a far-out possibility, with Qatar not necessarily seeming so feasible despite the fact that Israeli has been able to participate in the FIFA World Cup now taking place there.

With Saudi Arabia, the leadership has been interested, but the process of getting its citizens on board has been more complicated. It also wants to receive more from the United States in exchange.

For countries such as Bahrain and the UAE, however, Israel provides an economic and security advantage that they want to maximize now, but the momentum needs to be maintained.

Of particular importance to Bahrain and the UAE is the need for a strategic alliance with Israel against Iran, particularly given the proximity of the Gulf countries to the Islamic Republic.

Herzog also spoke of the specific connection Bahrain feels toward the Jewish people, particularly by the monarchs who have had a history of acting as the community’s protector.

Economic investment is also important, a senior official in the delegation explained. 

“Bahrain sees itself as a gateway to the Far East, to India to China to the Arab world, particularly with respect to the transportation of goods, the official said.

The official added that economic success was significant to help shore up public support for the accords. The leaders of the accord countries “want to show the fruits of peace to their peoples,” he said.