OpinionMiddle East

The case of Jordan versus the Abraham Accords

Jordan is determined to put the historic agreements on ice in favor of Palestinian rejectionism, and it wants the U.S. to help.

King Abdullah II of Jordan. Photo by Gevorg Ghazaryan/Shutterstock.
King Abdullah II of Jordan. Photo by Gevorg Ghazaryan/Shutterstock.
David M. Weinberg (Twitter)
David M. Weinberg
David M. Weinberg is senior fellow at the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy, in Jerusalem. His personal website is davidmweinberg.com.

Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher, a confidant of King Abdullah, has published a wholesale attack on the Abraham Accords, calling them “a recipe for violence, not peace” and urging 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 New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, which is close to the Biden administration. Given that U.S. President Joe Biden recently met twice with Abdullah and is traveling to Jerusalem and Jeddah next month, one begins to suspect that Muasher’s mugging of the Accords was coordinated with Washington.

According to Muasher and his co-author, Fatah functionary and legal adviser Zaha Hassan—both of whom are now sitting pretty 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, they said, “the Abraham Accords opened a political back door to implement the Trump peace plan without Palestinian acquiescence.”

Consequently, they assert, Biden should roll back everything former President Donald Trump did and achieved, and instead revert to the Oslo-era coddling of the Palestinians, tossing the blessed Abrahamic peace process into the dustbin. Muasher, it appears, wants Biden to reprioritize Palestinian rights 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.

Israel and its friends must be ready to counter such perfidious naysaying. To begin with, Muasher’s militant assault on the Abraham Accords is a classic piece of Jordanian chutzpah. It comes from a rickety monarchy that is totally dependent on U.S., Israeli and Saudi aid, and wants to see the Iranian juggernaut crushed just as much as Jerusalem does.

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

Most of all, the Abdullah-Muasher offensive is based on a wholly inaccurate narrative of what went wrong with Mideast peacemaking over the past 50 years. The Arab-Israeli conflict persisted for so long not because of Israel’s “occupation” of Judea and Samaria, but because of the refusal—initially by defeated Arab states and today by 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 lie in the implicit acknowledgment by Arab states (finally!) that Jews are a biblical people indigenous to the Land of Israel. Hence the reference to the common Abrahamic heritage of Muslims and Jews in the Accords’ foundational document. This is a joyous revolution that overturns generations of Arab and Islamic delegitimization of Israel.

This also could open the door to reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. All the Palestinian leadership needs to do is put aside its genocidal goals and its addiction to violence and terrorism (as well as corruption and kleptocracy) and consider real compromise with the Jewish state. This would bring in major development aid from both the Gulf states and Israel.

Biden should therefore encourage the expansion of the Abraham Accords, especially in regard to Saudi Arabia. Besides cementing a coalition of moderate countries in the region—which advances U.S. strategic goals for regional security and energy stability—the ascension of the Saudis would signal to the Palestinian leadership that the time to compromise with Israel has come.

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 charged—if the Palestinians don’t sideline themselves.

Let’s hope, then, that Biden listens less to Abdullah and Muasher and more to Israeli and Gulf Arab leaders.

David M. Weinberg is a senior fellow at the Kohelet Forum and Habithonistim: Israel’s Defense and Security Forum. His diplomatic, defense, political and Jewish world columns over the past 25 years are archived at www.davidmweinberg.com.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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