By: HaRav Menashe Sasson
Reporting from Jerusalem, Israel
Published in the U.S.A.
On September 15, 2020 (25 Elul 5780), the Prime Minister of Israel signed in Washington, D.C. an agreement dubbed the “Abraham Accords.” The agreement was brokered by the United States and seeks to “normalize” relations between Israel, on the one hand, and, the Muslim/Arab countries United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, on the other hand.
Generally speaking, the “normalization” of relations between countries – countries formally recognizing the sovereignty of each other, engaging in economic trade with each other, and the like – promotes peace, stability, and civility.
Israel, the only non-Muslim country in the region, will seemingly benefit from this agreement through the conversion of foes into friends. Prior to entering into this agreement, the UAE and Behrain, like many other Arab countries, past and present, did not formally recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel (as do some Jewish Israelis, but that is a topic for another day). As a result of this agreement, Israel will arguably be safer, as it is less likely that nations which have formal diplomatic relations with Israel will wage war, or support the waging of war, against Israel. Israel, presumably, will benefit economically, as both the UAE and Behrain are financially affluent countries.
The UAE and Behrain will benefit from the agreement because, as the saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In this case, the enemy of the UAE and Behrain is Iran. Iran and Israel are enemies because Iran – as it has stated publically many times – would utterly destroy Israel, if given the chance. Thus, the UAE and Behrain, knowing that Israel would never wage unprovoked war against them, came to the completely rational conclusion that Iran poses a significantly greater military threat to them, as comparted to Israel.
The broker of this deal, the United States, incentivized the UAE by making it an offer it could not refuse. The UAE has long-sought to purchase F-35 fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry from the U.S., but the U.S. has always refused to sell, that is, prior to the Israel-UAE/Behrain agreement. Israel, on the other hand, opposes the sale of such military equipment to the UAE, but apparently believes the benefits of the agreement with the UAE and Behrain outweigh its risks.
However, the threat posed to Israel by potential unintended consequences related to the sale by the U.S. of sophisticated military equipment to the UAE and the speculative nature of the economic benefits that Israel might expect enjoy as a result of this agreement do not provide a full accounting of the costs to be paid by Israel for entering into this agreement.
Prior to the public announcement of this agreement between Israel and the UAE/Behrain, the U.S. attempted to broker another Middle East peace agreement, an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs in Israel. That effort, even though it was rejected by the Palestinian Arabs, set the stage for Israel to exercise full sovereignty over certain areas of Judea and Samaria, areas which currently are not under full Israeli control, despite being part of Israel. Making matters worse, the Israeli prime minister, in running for election a mere few months before the Israel-UAE/Behrain agreement, made a campaign promise to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.
Thus, with the signing of the Israel-UAE/Behrain agreement, Israel has effectively abandoned all efforts to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.
The Israeli-UAE/Behrain agreement represents is nothing short of another “Land for Peace” agreement. As history has demonstrated many times in the past, “Land for Peace” agreements never work to the advantage of Israel. More importantly, however, the Torah, the “constitution” of the Jewish People (albeit not the constitution of the State of Israel), clearly forbids the Jewish People from entering into “Land for Peace” agreements. For a discussion on the Biblical prohibition against “Land for Peace” agreements, please visit: http://www.theisraelfoundation.org/blog/parasha-hukat-sovereignty-and-land-for-peace.
Israel may appear to benefit in the short-run from the Israel-UAE/Behrain agreement. But because it has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned Judea and Samaria by entering into what is nothing more than another “Land for Peace” agreement, Israel has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
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Menashe Sasson is a Sephardic rabbi and American attorney who resides in Jerusalem, Israel.