American-backed Israel-UAE agreement accelerates vaccine development, commerce

The Trump Administration announced Thursday that Israel and the United Arab Emirates had come to an agreement normalizing relations between the two Middle Eastern nations. President Trump took to Twitter saying, “HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!”

Outlined in a joint statement made by all three nations is a rough patchwork for the vision of bilateral Israeli-UAE relations moving forward. 

In the coming weeks they will meet to sign “agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.”

Rocky past

Historically serving as a broker of peace in the region, the United States has struggled to bring majority-Muslim Arab states to the negotiating table with Israel. 

To date only two other Arab nations have normalized relations with Israel: Egypt and Jordan. 

President Bill Clinton’s Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 (and a second part in 1995), seemed to be a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian-Arab relations. The Accords’ aims never materialized, however.

American diplomats, as well as Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, celebrated Thursday’s agreement as an “enormous, historic step forward,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Negotiators hope that this venture in diplomacy stands as a bedrock for further normalization of regional relations.

What’s in the deal?

According the joint statement released by the White House, Israel has agreed to:

  • halt plans for annexation of certain regions of the West Bank which it has declared sovereignty over;
  • allow Muslims to freely worship at the Al Asqa mosque and “Jerusalem’s other holy sites”; and
  • focus on normalization of relations with other Arab states.

The United Arab Emirates will:

  • fully recognize the state of Israel, normalizing relations with the nation; and
  • collaborate with Israel on vaccine development, economic growth, and more.

Both the UAE and Israel have agreed to join with the United States “to launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation.”

Vaccine development

Renowned as a global hub for medical innovation, Israel has been at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development and testing.

With Thursday’s announcement comes the promise that Israel, the UAE, and the United States will be able to work collaboratively to develop and test potential coronavirus vaccines and treatment options.

Commercial expansion

A steadfast, reliable economic partner of the United States, Israel has both benefited from and contributed to the bilateral commercial health of both nations. 

According to the U.S. Embassy in Israel, trade between the two states has increased “ten-fold to $49 billion in 2016” since 1985, when the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement took effect.

“Israelis now invest close to $24 billion in the United States, nearly triple what it was a decade earlier,” the embassy notes.

Commonly known as “Start-Up Nation,” Israel’s job creator friendly regulatory environment has enabled them to lead the world in start-ups per-capita. 

“With a population of around 8.5 million, it has the largest number of startups per capita in the world, around one startup per 1,400 people,” Kristina Velan of APEX magazine said.

An economic engine in the Middle East, the potential partnership with the UAE can only expand both nations’ economic and geopolitical prowess.

Arizona’s moment

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in 2019 announced the opening of the Arizona-Israel Trade and Investment Office in Tel Aviv, a venture championed at the state Legislature by state Rep. Tony Rivero, R-Peoria. 

Glenn Hamer, CEO and president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry said at the time that, “Israel is known worldwide as the Startup Nation. Arizona is the Startup State. Arizona and Israel are a great match.”

With Thursday’s news, Arizona is poised to benefit from expanded Israeli commerce and a less tense Middle East.

Photo courtesy of David Ya’ari Tomer Malichi photography

Joe Pitts

Joe Pitts is a born and bred Arizonan who formerly served as the program director at the Arizona Chamber Foundation. He graduated Arizona State University's Barrett, the Honors College in 2023 with a B.S. in Management and concurrent B.S. in Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

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