Nominated by the ever-controversial American attorney Alan Dershowitz for their role in negotiating the normalization of relationships between Israel and four Arab nations as part of the “Abraham Accords”, former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his deputy, Avi Berkowitz, join the ranks of hundreds of other esteemed professionals competing for the coveted honor of a Nobel Peace Prize.
The “Abraham Accords”, which were announced between mid-August and mid-December 2020, established formal relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. The deals boosted an unprecedented degree of peace and economic cooperation between Israel and its Gulf neighbors. They were revolutionary as peace efforts in the Middle East, proving that solving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is not as crucial as many thought to brokering peace between other Arab countries and Israel. Many commentators noted that the Arab Gulf States and Israel had a common interest in opposing Iran, which was more important than their views on the Palestinians.
President Biden praised the accords from the campaign trail, prior to their signing at the White House this September. But since taking office, he has said that he would also like to return to the Iran nuclear deal, the 2015 multilateral agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which the Trump administration withdrew. As Dan Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel under Obama, described President Biden’s approach, “He wants to use that dynamic to reflect some positive momentum back into the Israeli-Palestinian deal.”
Critics of the JCPOA, however, worry that returning even to a modified deal will jeopardize any progress in the region made in the three years since the United States withdrew from the faulty deal. Despite Biden’s optimistic intentions, they worry he is disregarding how much the Middle East has changed since his time in the Obama administration.
Regional partners in the Gulf know all too well of the misfortune that followed the signing of the standstill agreement that was the JCPOA. Iran did not uphold the first agreement from 2015 and there is nothing to prove that they will act differently a second time around. An attempt to reengage with Iran and the Palestinians, though important in the long run, will only impede, if not entirely derail, the success of the Abraham Accords.
As Israel’s former Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, stressed this past November, building a more united front against Tehran would be unequivocally more beneficial than trying to negotiate with the Islamic Republic.
Additionally, both Israel and Arab states opposed the 2015 JCPOA, though their views were ignored by the Obama administration. Biden should not make the same mistake.
Unfortunately, Kushner’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize likely will not drastically change much in terms of Biden’s view on the matter, considering the low bar for which nominations are set and who nominated him. However, the nomination will hopefully spread awareness of the revolutionary impact of the Abraham Accords and how it has redefined the Middle East as we know it today.