By Azriel Bermant, Published in Foreign Policy, March 26, 2021
In 2020, Israel normalized relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco—a major diplomatic achievement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the help of the Trump administration, claimed much of the credit for the Abraham Accords amid the growth in formal and informal contacts between Israel and the Gulf States over the past five years, driven in large part by shared concerns over the threat posed by Iran. However, Israel’s diplomats have been working quietly behind the scenes for more than 25 years to nurture ties with these states. As Eliav Benjamin, a senior Israeli diplomat, said, “This what people in my profession work for day in and day out.”
This is a far cry from the Israeli experience in the early years following its establishment in 1948, as both Uri Bialer and Emmanuel Navon remind us in two new books evaluating more than 70 years of Israeli diplomatic history. Israel’s policymakers were desperately trying to break the international isolation that was paralyzing the Jewish state in the wake of its traumatic war of independence and the existential threat from the enemies surrounding it.
Dr Azriel Bermant
Foreign Policy and International Security Analyst, Historian, Lecturer, Author