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The Old Peace Treaties vs. the Abraham Accords


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Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies

Dr. Frank Musmar

September 12, 2021

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 2,151, September 12, 2021

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Unlike Israel’s earlier peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, the Abraham Accords involved Arab countries that do not border Israel, have never fought it on the battlefield, and are relatively unburdened by the Palestinian question. Accordingly, they were able to implement a “people to people” peace that eluded their predecessors.

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How do the old peace agreements differ from the Abraham Accords?

The main difference between the old peace treaties and the Abraham Accords is that the latter is distinguished by a warm peace. The UAE is distinct from the other Abraham Accords countries, like Sudan or Bahrain, because it fought radical Islamists and their ideology by creating an exemplary model of tolerance in the region years before the Abraham Accords. The UAE hosted the Pope, built the Abrahamic Family House, signed the agreement of Human Fraternity for World Peace, built a Hindu temple, and added more than 200 nationalities to the country. The country’s ethos of coexistence and tolerance is supported by the media and the education system.

Morocco, another Abraham Accords country, contains a considerable number of Sephardic Jews and has historical ties to Israel. These facts helped it prepare its people for a warm peace with the Jewish State.

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Bennett-Sissi meeting shows Egypt wants to expand Israel ties, but up to a point

Open nature of meeting sends encouraging message that cold peace could see a thaw, but Cairo remains very wary of provoking the public where anti-Israel sentiment dominates

Lazar Berman

15 September 2021

Israeli officials — not least of all the prime minister — expressed great satisfaction and optimism after Naftali Bennett’s first meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi that the cold peace that Israel has made do with since 1979 is about to thaw.

Bennett said after the Monday visit to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that he had “an important and very good meeting” with Sissi, in which the two “laid the foundation for deep ties moving forward.”

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But Israel — and Bennett — should be careful not to get too far ahead of themselves. Anti-Israel sentiment dominates Egyptian society, including among its elites, and Sissi has no intention of making trouble for his regime by stirring up resentment over his approach to Israel.

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Sharm el-Sheikh. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli officials — not least of all the prime minister — expressed great satisfaction and optimism after Naftali Bennett’s first meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi that the cold peace that Israel has made do with since 1979 is about to thaw.

Bennett said after the Monday visit to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that he had “an important and very good meeting” with Sissi, in which the two “laid the foundation for deep ties moving forward.”

Before getting on his flight back to Israel, Bennett said that the two leaders discussed broadening trade and tourism, striking a hopeful tone that there would be a shift from the largely behind-the-scenes ties toward a greater public embrace.

 

There were certainly reasons for that optimism. The move to host Bennett, initiated by Sissi and delivered through intelligence chief Abbas Kamel during his August visit to Jerusalem, was significant in and of itself. It had been a decade since an Israeli leader made a public visit to Egypt, and Sissi could have made do with a quiet sitdown with Bennett on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Instead, Bennett was treated to a very public meeting with Sissi, complete with joint statements to the press, an Israeli flag flying behind him and front-page coverage in Egyptian newspapers.

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But Israel — and Bennett — should be careful not to get too far ahead of themselves. Anti-Israel sentiment dominates Egyptian society, including among its elites, and Sissi has no intention of making trouble for his regime by stirring up resentment over his approach to Israel.

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi meet on Monday, September 13, 2021, in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egyptian Presidency).

“The invitation does not indicate a readiness on the part of Egypt to move toward full normalization, or to deepen bilateral economic, civil society and cultural relations,” cautioned Moshe Albo, senior researcher at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Reichman University in Herlizya.

“The meeting was meant to strengthen Cairo’s vital role in Jerusalem and in Washington,  and to leverage it to advance interests at the heart of Egypt’s national security,” he said.

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The Biden factor

Egypt finds itself facing a number of significant challenges, and Bennett’s visit could help it confront those at the top of the agenda of decision-makers in Cairo.

Leading that list are Egypt’s ties with the US.

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