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Before the Abraham Accords, there was Madrid

27 3 9

Last week, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken hosted Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed to celebrate the “accomplishments since the signing of the Abraham Accords,” a year ago, as Blinken tweeted. But this is not the first time Israel and Arab states took normalization steps brokered by the United States. Thirty years ago this month, the Madrid Peace Conference triggered the first wave of normalization between Israel and several Arab states.

Although no two processes are alike — and certainly not ones separated by three decades and major local, regional, and global transformations — there may be lessons from the fate of the first for the destiny of the second.

Under the stewardship of then-president George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James A Baker, III, on October 30, 1991, the then all-mighty US and a declining Soviet Union co-hosted an Arab-Israeli peace conference in Madrid, Spain. The breakthrough produced by Baker’s mastery of statecraft did not end with bringing tough-minded Arab leaders to join Yitzhak Shamir, the intransigent Israeli prime minister, at that summit. Instead — by design — the conference yielded a two-track negotiations process: a bilateral track between Israel and each of its neighbors (except Egypt, which had already been at peace with Israel), and a multilateral track, where........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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