Jordan is attacking the Abraham Accords to push Biden - opinion

Seeking to influence Biden to ice the accords in favor of the Palestinians

 FORMER JORDANIAN foreign minister Marwan Muasher speaks with Reuters TV in Amman, 2020. In the latest issue of ‘Foreign Affairs,’ he writes that the Abraham Accords are “a recipe for violence, not peace.”  (photo credit: MUHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS)
FORMER JORDANIAN foreign minister Marwan Muasher speaks with Reuters TV in Amman, 2020. In the latest issue of ‘Foreign Affairs,’ he writes that the Abraham Accords are “a recipe for violence, not peace.”
(photo credit: MUHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS)

Marwan Muasher, who was foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Jordan and is a confidant of Jordanian King Abdullah, just published a wholesale attack on the Abraham Accords. Muasher claims that they are “a recipe for violence, not peace,” and he urges the US to stop offering incentives to Arab governments to join the accords “so long as Israel continues to take Palestinian land.”

Muasher’s mordant article appears in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, a high-brow journal published by the NY-based Council on Foreign Relations – which is close to the Biden administration. Combined with US President Biden recently having met twice with Jordanian King Abdullah, and with Biden’s plan to travel to Jerusalem and Jeddah next month, one begins to suspect that Muasher’s mugging of the Abraham Accords was coordinated with Washington.

Israel and its friends must be ready to counter such perfidious naysaying.

According to Muasher and coauthor Zaha Hassan (a Fatah functionary and legal adviser) – both of whom now sit pretty in posts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Israel’s aim in signing the Abraham Accords “was to redirect world attention away from its military occupation, not to end it.”

Worse still, “the Abraham Accords opened a political back door to implement the Trump peace plan without Palestinian acquiescence,” they aver.

 FROM L: Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US president Donald Trump, Bahraini Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wave after the Abraham Accords signing ceremony, at the White House, September 15, 2020. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images) FROM L: Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US president Donald Trump, Bahraini Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wave after the Abraham Accords signing ceremony, at the White House, September 15, 2020. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ridiculously, Muasher maintains that even Arab dictatorial rule across the Mideast can be blamed on the Abraham Accords (which is rich because Jordan is just such a dictatorship). “Pushing Arab governments to sign the Abraham Accords invites those governments to step up authoritarian tactics to quash dissent, complicating democracy and human rights promotion.”

This latter argument is so asinine that it needs no debunking.

Muasher’s main demands of Biden, as the US president prepares to visit the Mideast, include reversing Trump’s acceptance of settlements as “not illegal,” Trump’s closure of the US consulate in Jerusalem and the PLO office in Washington, Trump’s “dumping of weapons” into the UAE and Israel, Trump’s delisting of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, Trump’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara, etc.

In short, Muasher wants Biden to roll-back everything Trump did and achieved, and instead revert to Oslo-era coddling of the Palestinians while tossing the blessed Abrahamic peace process into the dustbin. He wants Biden to reorder priorities with Palestinian rights higher while putting the Abraham Accords on ice.

He wants to bring back the bad old days of Palestinian primacy in Arab politics and hold back true progress towards peace and prosperity for the entire region.

MUASHER’S MILITANT assault on the Abraham Accords is a classic piece of Jordanian chutzpah – coming from a rickety monarchy that is totally dependent on US, Israeli and Saudi aid – and from a regime that wants to see the radical Islamic Iranian juggernaut crushed just as much as Jerusalem decision makers do.

Muasher’s thrashing is of a piece with Abdullah’s other recent onslaughts against Israel, especially his galling attempts to claim “custodianship” over Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem and to run Israel off the Temple Mount. (Beware of Jordanian collusion with Biden here, too.)

The Abdullah-Muasher offensive is based on a wholly inaccurate narrative of what went wrong in Mideast peacemaking over the past 50 years. The Arab-Israel conflict persisted for so long not because of Israeli West Bank “occupation,” but because of the refusal – initially of defeated Arab states and still-today of self-governing Palestinians – to accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

By contrast, the beauty and the promise of the two-year-old Abraham Accords lies in the implicit acknowledgment by Arab states (finally) that Jews are a Biblical people indigenous to the Land of Israel – hence reference to the Abrahamic common heritage of Muslims and Jews in the accords’ foundational document.

This is a joyous revolution that overturns generations of Arab and Islamic ideological delegitimization of Israel. It is based on the desire of the Emiratis, Bahrainis, Moroccans, and others to do good first and foremost for themselves; to redefine the self-identity and global image of Arab Muslims in a way that blends tradition with enlightenment. Affiliating with Israel fits perfectly into this agenda, because they correctly see Israel a role model for such synthesis.

Putting aside religious hatred and extremist goals like destroying Israel allows these Arab countries to reassess and embrace Israel as a force for stability and an engine for prosperity in the Mideast. This is what opened the door to Gulf-Israel cooperation in business and defense policy.

This is what also could open the door to reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. All Palestinian leadership needs to do is put aside its genocidal goals and its addiction to violence and terrorism (and corruption and kleptocracy), and instead consider real compromise with Israel. This will then tap into Gulf Arab development budgets for the Palestinian polity/polities and into Israeli generosity too.

Consequently, Biden indeed should encourage expansion of the Abraham Accords, especially with Saudi Arabia. Aside from cementing a coalition of moderate countries in the region (which advances US strategic goals for regional security and energy stability), the ascension of the Saudis would signal to Palestinian leadership that the time to compromise with Israel irrevocably has come.

Perhaps Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) can help convince Palestinians to accept the Jewish people’s historic rights in Israel and cut an amicable settlement with Israel.

In short, expansion of the Abraham Accords can only improve, rather than impede, prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The accords need not “sideline” the Palestinians (as Muasher charges) if the Palestinians don’t sideline themselves.

In this regard, let’s hope that Biden listens less to Abdullah and Muasher (and to the discredited leader of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, and to stuck-in-Oslo-mindset European leaders), and more to Israeli Prime Minister Bennett and Gulf Arab leaders.

And while tacking towards Bennett and MBS, Biden also might want to take their views into account regarding Iran. Whatever happens in Vienna, Iran will remain a ruthless foe of the West, of Israel and of the moderate Sunni Arab world. So, it is time for the US to prepare military deterrence and credible military attack options to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon and to guarantee a drawback in Iran’s regional hegemonic machinations. Will Biden truly be listening?

The writer is a senior fellow at The Kohelet Forum and in the research department of Habithonistim: Israel’s Defense and Security Forum. The views expressed here are his own. His diplomatic, defense, political, and Jewish world columns over the past 25 years are archived at davidmweinberg.com