(June 25, 2021 / JNS) The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was applauded by AIPAC on Thursday for adopting the “Israel Relations Normalization Act of 2021,” which seeks to support and expand recent normalization agreements between Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
“The bipartisan bill recognizes that these agreements have the potential to transform the region and enhance the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” said an AIPAC news release.
The bill, S. 1061, was authored by a bipartisan group of senators and endorses the agreements made as part of the Abraham Accords brokered with Israel under the Trump administration. It also looks to build on the agreements by requesting that the government form a strategy to expand and strengthen the accords.
The legislation recognizes that the new Israeli-Arab partnerships align with U.S. national interests; as such, it requires an assessment of bilateral and multilateral relations between Israel, Arab states and other relevant countries in the region to expand partnerships and collaboration in areas such as climate solutions, water scarcity, health care and sustainable development.
It also aims to leverage international donors, institutions and partner countries to facilitate people-to-people and government-to-government relations between Israelis and Arabs.
The bill was introduced by a group of bipartisan senators, including Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.)—all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“In my visits to the Middle East, I’ve seen the deep and abiding friendships that exist, and the potential for long-term peace and stability,” Portman said in a news release. “This bill will encourage the normalization of relations between Israel and other countries in the region, which will help build on the success of the Abraham Accords, support our ally Israel and enshrine the longstanding U.S. policy that encourages Arab League states to normalize relations with Israel.”
The bill would require the identification and pushback against government-sponsored efforts in several Arab League countries to discourage the retaliate against their own citizens to engage in people-to-people relations with Israelis.
“Expanding the Abraham Accords to strengthen the relationship between Israel and its neighbors is not only a vital U.S. security interest but is also important for peace and economic prosperity in the region,” said Booker in the release.
Introduced on March 25, the bill has gained 56 co-sponsors. It now moves to a vote in the U.S. Senate.
A similar bill, H.R. 2748, introduced by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and five other original co-sponsors, is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives and has gained 145 co-sponsors.
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