Without a doubt the Abraham Accords of 2020, between Israel and a growing number of Arab states, was the most significant, positive breakthrough in the intractable confrontation between Israel and the Arab/Muslim world. It magnified the scope for compromise between Israel and some of its most obdurate foes.
From the perspective of Israel’s other long-term enemies, the Accords evidenced a fatal crack in their previously united, anti-Semitic front against the Jewish state. Although most democratic (Western) states verbally welcomed the Abraham Accords, some were more equivocal than others in so doing.
The Accords showed that there was scope for ancient Arab enemies of the Jews to achieve common ground and live together. This was and is a great start to a real, warm peace.
To the front line protagonists, such as Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) factions, the Accords was and is potentially a fatal blow, since if it were to take root then both these pseudo-governments would cede any rationale to their existence. That rationale is the annihilation of the Jewish State, “from the river to the sea”. The functionaries, high commands and dignitaries who depend on international donations to their causes to enrich their pockets would be out of a job.
The main question these warmongers, who have no desire for the Abraham Accords to succeed, needed to address was: what to do? How to respond?
Their answer, as the world has now seen, is a clever one. Hamas and the PLO have sparked a war with Israel, lighting the fuse with a low level insurrection about property rights and fanning those flames to ignite an all-out war between Israel and the Palestinians.
The cement melding the new Abraham Accords — a Middle East pact which includes the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain, Sudan and Oman — is still wet and needs time to harden into a fully-fledged, operational peace. Once it achieves this level of cooperation and co-existence and co-benefit it will be extremely difficult to break.
The PLO and Hamas now have a narrow time window to fatally weaken the Accords. They need to get the Israel/Palestine issue back, centre stage. Their formidable PR machine is spewing out venom against Israel which will be shared and repeated on a worldwide scale. So their leadership has plotted and schemed to escalate a small real estate dispute into an international crisis.
Those states that signed up to the Abraham Accords are faced with a difficult choice. Do they support their Arab brethren, with whom they have strong historical bonds, or those with Israel where the ties are new and more fluid and less strong?
One consideration which will have significant weight will be the stance that the West and, in particular, the US and EU take. So far they appear to give equal blame to both. Playing safe, they appear to want to please everyone, except Israel. This in itself gives Hamas and the PLO a small victory. Taking advantage of the West’s equivocation, Hamas and the PLO will continue with their warmongering, regardless of the carnage they deliberately inflict on their own people. Eventually the situation will become so intolerable that the international community will threaten to impose severe economic sanctions on Israel. At that stage, Israel will be forced to capitulate.
Then Hamas and the PLO will have won and the Abraham Accords will be history. A golden opportunity for long-term peace will have vanished like quicksilver through the crack in the lab bench.
Only historians will remember that there was a moment when the international community made the wrong decision. And that moment is now.