The Peace Agreements between Israel and Two Arab States: Implications for Peace with the Palestinians

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Date : 9/23/2020

Speaker Name: Professor Ibrahim Warde, Professor Leila Farsakh, Professor Yoram Peri

In the first event of Nadim N. Rouhana’s directorship, the Fares Center was pleased to host a panel of scholars: Dr. Leila Farsakh of UMass Boston, Dr. Yoram Peri of the University of Maryland, and Dr. Ibrahim Warde of the Fletcher School. The three professors formed a panel which deliberated whether or not the peace agreements between Israel and two Arab states (UAE and Bahrain) could serve as a step forward toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Each scholar offered their own expertise on the subject, with Professor Farsakh beginning with the notion that this agreement was not a peace deal, but in fact a business deal. She went on to explain that such a performative display of resolution served primarily to help Donald Trump on the eve of the U.S. elections. Farsakh concluded with her opinion that hope for a two-state solution has been long dead, but if there was any doubt, the Trump administration has certainly killed it. 

Professor Peri underscored this point with his reference to the fact that the deal was never truly centered on peace, as neither the UAE nor Bahrain were ever at war with Israel. Peri also emphasized that the answer to whether one supports the accords depends on one’s support of Netanyahu; and he projected that Sudan, Algeria and Saudi Arabia will be the next to follow suit. 

Professor Warde concluded the panel with an analysis of the regional impact should Saudi Arabia choose to join the accords. While King Salman has rejected the notion of jumping aboard the deal, Warde highlighted that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may swing yes. The UAE and Bahrain hold only a few million “locals”, while attaching the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the deal will bring over thirty million citizens.

Since the time of our panel, Morocco has also normalized relations with Israel, proving our speakers’ point that other Arab nations are likely to support this peace deal – especially if there is a quid pro quo attached. 

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