Anwar Gargash: Abraham Accords are about 'visionary thinking' for the region

Diplomatic adviser says 2020 agreement marked a significant development for the Middle East

Dr Anwar Gargash was addressing the Munich Security Conference.
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The Abraham Accords are one of the “most significant strategic developments” in the Middle East for many years, said Dr Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa.

At the Munich Security Conference, Dr Gargash said the Accords had helped break down “psychological barriers” that had compounded the Arab-Israeli issue and beyond over the years.

He said the UAE believed there needed to be an “agenda of tolerance” in the region. “The Abraham Accords fits very well into that,” Dr Gargash said.

The Accords, signed at the White House in 2020, normalised relations between the UAE and Israel. Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan soon followed suit.

The UAE “is pursuing what I call an agenda of stability and prosperity”, Dr Gargash said.

“And with that, I think using the economy, using investment as a visionary tool to change the region is extremely important,” he said, referring to the plethora of economic opportunities that have been created since the signing of the deal. Since 2020, and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, 123,000 Israelis had visited Dubai alone, Dr Gargash said.

The Accords, he said, were about “visionary thinking” for the Middle East.

“Not talking to Israel and not contacting Israel, and not having any relations with Israel, has truly been a failed, failed policy. I mean, there are no results to show here.

“I think that what Egypt has done many years ago, what Jordan has done a bit later, and the Abraham Accords today show a much more realistic course,” Dr Gargash said, referring to the normalisation of relations between Israel and Egypt in 1980, and Israel and Jordan in 1994.

He said the Accords could contribute towards a peaceful solution for Israel and Palestine.

“I don’t see that the Abraham Accords in itself is the sort of magic wand that will resolve everything. But we have been able, for example, through the Abraham Accords to stop the annexation of the Palestinian lands in the previous Israeli government,” Dr Gargash said.

Also speaking at the conference in Munich was Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmed, Bahrain’s Undersecretary for International Affairs.

“The relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel stands as a testament on how peace can bring about stability and prosperity both on a bilateral level as well as on a regional level ... the aspirations remain high and what is yet to come is even more astonishing,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

Benny Gantz, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, was also in Munich, where he said it was a significant time for peace and stability in the Middle East.

“Partnerships are being built between leaders, peace is forged between countries and friendships are made between people,” he said.

“We are opening the gates of the Middle East to co-operation that will strengthen our economies, spread innovation and contribute to regional stability and security.

“Our hands are extended in peace to new brave leaders in the region who are prepared to develop relations with Israel."

But the retired Israeli Army general also issued a warning shot to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which is accused of flying a drone into Israel’s territory a few days ago.

“I have a clear message for Hezbollah," he said. "Their operatives are familiar with the noise made by our aeroplanes … if we are required to respond to the attack in order to defend ourselves, we will do so and we will cause great damage to the terror organisation.”

Updated: February 20, 2022, 2:26 PM