From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Abraham Accord
Mains level : Balance of relations between India, Israel and the Gulf
The White House has marked the formal normalization of Israel’s ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Bahrain has created a significant inflexion point in regional history and geopolitics.
Try this question:
Q. What are Abraham Accords? Discuss how the Israel-Gulf synergy could impact India’s relations with Israel.
What are Abraham Accords?
- The Israel–UAE normalization agreement is officially called the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement.
- It was initially agreed to in a joint statement by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020.
- The UAE thus became the third Arab country, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to agree to formally normalize its relationship with Israel as well as the first Persian Gulf country to do so.
- Concurrently, Israel agreed to suspend plans for annexing parts of the West Bank. The agreement normalized what had long been informal but robust foreign relations between the two countries.
- Externally, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain share the common threat perception of Iran.
- Internally, while all three have their respective hotheads opposing this reconciliation, these seem manageable.
- They are relatively more modern societies which share the overarching and immediate priority of post-pandemic economic resuscitation.
- They have lost no time to set up logistics such as Internet connectivity and direct flights to pave the way for more active economic engagement.
- If these sinews evolve, other moderate Arab countries are likely to join the Israel fan club.
India and the Gulf
- Now India has stronger, multifaceted and growing socioeconomic engagements with Israel and the Gulf countries.
- With over eight million Indian diasporas in the Gulf remitting annually nearly $50 billion, annual merchandise trade of over $150 billion.
- It sources nearly two-thirds of India’s hydrocarbon imports, major investments, etc. Hence it is natural to ask how the new regional dynamic would affect India.
The Israel-GCC synergy
- With defence and security cooperation as a strong impetus, both sides are ready to realize the full potential of their economic complementarity.
- The UAE and Bahrain can become the entrepôts to Israeli exports of goods and services to diverse geographies.
- Israel has niche strengths in defence, security and surveillance equipment, arid farming, solar power, horticultural products, high-tech, gem and jewellery, and pharmaceuticals.
- Tourism, real estate and financial service sectors on both sides have suffered due to the pandemic and hope for a positive spin-off from the peer-to-peer interactions.
- Further, Israel has the potential to supply skilled and semi-skilled manpower to the GCC states, particularly from the Sephardim and Mizrahim ethnicities, many of whom speak Arabic.
- Even the Israeli Arabs may find career opportunities to bridge the cultural divide. Israel is known as the start-up nation and its stakeholders could easily fit in the various duty-free incubators in the UAE.
Implications of the new trinity
- Geopolitically, India has welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel, calling both its strategic partners.
- In general, the Israel-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) breakthrough widens the moderate constituency for peaceful resolution of the Palestine dispute, easing India’s diplomatic balancing act.
- However, nothing in West Asia is monochromatic: The Israel-GCC ties may provoke new polarization between the Jihadi fringe and the mainstream.
- The possibility of the southern Gulf becoming the new arena of the proxy war between Iran and Israel cannot be ruled out, particularly in Shia pockets.
- India would have to be on its guard to monitor and even pre-empt any threat to its interests in the Gulf.
- Israeli foray into the Gulf has the potential to disrupt the existing politico-economic architecture India has carefully built with the GCC states.
- India has acquired a large and rewarding regional footprint, particularly as the preferred source of manpower, food products, pharmaceuticals, gem and jewellery, light engineering items, etc.
- Indians are also the biggest stakeholders in Dubai’s real estate, tourism and Free Economic Zones.
- In the evolving scenario, there may be scope for a profitable trilateral synergy, but India cannot take its preponderance as a given.