In 2020, Israel signed a series of normalization agreements – often referred to as “The Abraham Accords” – with two of its neighbors in the Middle East: Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. In the following months Sudan and Morocco followed suit and signed their own normalization agreements with Israel.
The normalization agreements were hailed by many as a major success in improving Israel’s relationship with its neighbors and improving Israel’s standing and belonging within the region.
However, many also raised concerns about what these agreements would – or wouldn’t – do for the efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and create an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Some advocates and commentators noted that the Accords did not incorporate any Palestinian views or appear to produce tangible improvements for Palestinians, and worried that they could be used to bypass, undermine or sideline diplomatic efforts focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mitvim knew that they had work to do to address this. “Our big priority for 2022 was to figure out how to reframe the normalization agreements to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace,’ Solkovits says.
In their annual public opinion survey, the Foreign Policy Index, Mitvim asked Israelis: “Do you support using the Abraham Accords to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace?” The results showed that over fifty-five percent of Israelis did. They took the numbers to the Minister of Regional Cooperation, who told them that he had wanted to do more work to connect the Abraham Accords to peace efforts – but he wasn’t aware there was such high public support for such an initiative.
They continue to push for the use of the agreements as a tool to build on, and to bring the Palestinians into the fold.
“In all of our dialogues with our Arab partners, and in all of our work, we are conscious and intentional about making sure that the Palestinian issue comes up. And in our policy briefings and recommendations, whenever we talk about deepening the Abraham Accords, we’re telling Israeli government officials that you can only do that if you’re bringing Israel-Palestine into the issue as well.”