US Congress forms caucus to bolster Abraham Accords

The new caucus bolsters US momentum to build upon the Abraham Accords that normalised relations between Israel and four Arab countries

The US Capitol at dawn on January 6, 2021. AP
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Several members of the US Congress started a bipartisan caucus this week geared toward bolstering and expanding the Abraham Accords, which normalised relations between Israel and four Arab countries, including the UAE.

Four senators and four members of the House of Representatives announced the new caucus in a joint statement on Monday.

“I stand with Israel and for lasting peace in the Middle East, alongside my colleagues, as we launch the Abraham Accords Caucus,” said Republican James Lankford, who is co-founding the caucus in the Senate.

Republican Joni Ernst joined Mr Lankford as well as Democrats Cory Booker and Jacky Rosen in founding the caucus in the Senate.

“The United States must continue to play an active role in fostering further dialogue and partnership between Israel and other Arab countries, and I look forward to doing just that as part of this bipartisan group,” Mr Booker said.

The co-founders of the caucus in the House are Republicans Cathy McMorris Rogers and Ann Wagner was well as Democrats David Trone and Brad Schneider.

The caucus has the backing of several pro-Israel lobby groups, most notably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as well as the Atlantic Council, a prominent Washington-based think tank.

It also has the backing of the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, a think tank founded by Jared Kushner, former president Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser.

Mr Kushner facilitated the normalisation treaties after scrapping a hard-line peace plan that would have allowed Israel to annex much of the occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups are also pushing legislation in Congress, known as the Israel Relations Normalisation Act, that would push the Joe Biden administration to expand the Abraham Accords.

The legislation would require the State Department, Defence Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to co-ordinate on a strategy convincing more countries to normalise relations with Israel.

The Biden administration expanded on the Abraham Accords last year by facilitating the creation of two trilateral working groups with the UAE and Israel focusing respectively on religious co-existence as well as energy and water.

Shortly thereafter, the UAE brokered a renewable energy sharing agreement between Israel and Jordan.

Under the agreement, the three countries will develop solar photovoltaic plants in Jordan, which will also export renewable energy into Israel.

In return, they will also develop a desalination plant in Israel to allow for the export of water into Jordan.

Updated: January 11, 2022, 11:10 PM