In 1970, in his book, Russia, the Vatican and the invasion of Israel, Graham Pearce wrote this:
‘Eze 38 describes a remarkable time of peace and prosperity before the northern invader thinks his evil thought and says, ‘I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and neither having bars nor gates’. (The language of Ezekiel’s time for a peaceful state). Today the land of Israel is the reverse of this. These words of Ezekiel have not yet been fulfilled, and they most certainly will be fulfilled. We must accept God’s words with a childlike disposition. Three times the prophet declares that the northern invader will come at time of peace and tranquillity in the land.’
For many years, bible students have read of the strange transitory state of peace that the prophet describes and looked up from their bibles only to see continual war, bloodshed and intifada ingrained in Israel’s relationships with her neighbours. While such violence has not yet come to an end, as Hamas demonstrated in May, nevertheless, the Abraham Accords brought a seismic geopolitical shift in the region that could be seen as the building blocks for an acceptance of Israel in the Middle East.
Last week, the Times of Israel wrote an article reflecting on the agreement one year one, stated, ‘While most of the foreign policy world is focused on Joe Biden’s moves in Afghanistan in the wake of the turn of events there, the anniversary of another important development quietly took place last month. The first part of the Abraham Accords, the historic cooperation agreements between Israel and several of its Arab neighbours, brokered in large part by the United States, turned one year old in the middle of August. The United Arab Emirates signed a treaty to normalize its relations with Israel for the first time on Aug. 13, 2020, opening up collaboration on tourism, trade, technology sharing and more. Bahrain would soon follow suit, followed by Sudan and Morocco — all of whom never had formal relations with Israel.’
As we look back over the past year, the accords have gone from strength to strength, as several of Israel’s Arab neighbors have fallen into place, following the example of the UAE.
13th Aug 2020 – UAE
23rd Oct 2020 – Sudan
10th Dec 2020 – The Trump administration announced that Kingdom of Morocco agreed to establish full diplomatic ties.
11th Feb 2021 – Oman
30th March 2021 – Bahrain
History illustrates how unprecedented these diplomatic ties are. For example – Sudan. After Sudan became independent in 1956, they sided with the pan-Arab policy of Gamal Abdel Nasser, and declared war on Israel in 1967, along with Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq. After the war, the famous three Nos summit was held in Khartoum, of all places, Sudan’s capital. There would be no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel. This is somewhat ironic considering Jordan, Egypt and Sudan now all have a peace treaty with Israel. The Ethiopian Jews were rescued in the covert ‘Operation Brothers’ carried out by the Mossad in 1977, to rescue the Jews from Sudanese refugee camps. After information about the mission leaked in 1984, U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush arranged to rescue the agents, shipping them out of Sudan in large boxes labeled “U.S. Diplomatic Mail.” – How times have changed!
Back to this week...
As progress continues to march on, only this week the first ever Bahrainian ambassador to Israel landed in Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv. As he touched down in Israel, a statement by the state-run Bahrain News agency said the ambassador's arrival is “an important step in developing relations between the two countries and their people.’’
Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman added that ‘The Bahraini Embassy in Israel, as well as the Israeli Embassy in Bahrain, have a central role in the strengthening of the bilateral relations and serve as yet another milestone of the vision of the peace accords signed in 2020’.
Another win for the Abraham Accords is the government of Israel – From Naftali Bennet, the Prime minister, to Yair Lapid, the foreign minister, to Bibi Netanyahu, the new opposition leader, there is consensus. One of the few things all can agree on is that the Abraham Accords are a positive thing for Israel. Only yesterday, the mishmash of Ideologies which is Naftali Bennet’s government passed the 1st reading of the budget through the Knesset – This is a strong indicator that, at least in the short term, the new coalition in Israel is stable. This is important since the new foreign minister, Yair Lapid took his first visit to Morocco as an opportunity to sketch out his vision for moving the Abraham Accords into the next phase. Lapid had this to say: ‘What we are creating here, and what we have been creating over the past few months, is essentially a political axis. A growing group of countries working together with a shared vision. From the UAE and Bahrain in the Gulf, Morocco in North Africa, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East, Cyprus and Greece in the Mediterranean, and others that are joining all the time.’ Lapid is looking to usher in a new period of regional stability for Israel. But whatever the outcome of the civil war in Israeli politics, one certainty appears to be that the Abraham Accords will be valued and built upon by Israel.
Perhaps the most curious part of the Abraham Accords in the past year, has been the lack of outrage displayed by the Arab countries towards Israel during its war with the Hamas in May. The Middle East Institute described the war as the first test of the Abraham Accords. And the result was a shift in focus. The Middle East Institute had this to say: ‘Statements on their part became more nuanced, and the criticism began to be aimed at both Israel and Hamas. Despite the basic empathy for the Palestinians and the extensive coverage highlighting the death and destruction in Gaza, the attacks on Israeli citizens were also reported. Some columnists in the Arab media, who often reflect the positions of the regimes, accused Hamas of initiating the round of fighting and thereby harming the people of Gaza. They even expressed sympathy with Israeli citizens forced to stay in shelters due to Hamas rocket fire. They also refrained from commenting on the violence between Jews and Arabs within Israel’.
This softening of attitude toward Israel, shows that the Arab world is now walking along a diplomatic tightrope, heading a direction that they have never traveled before. Could this be the beginning of the end for Hamas and Fatah? The times of Israel wrote that that Palestinian leadership viewed the normalization of ties an act of betrayal. Fatah is advocating for Palestinians to reject this newfound peace – Mahmoud Abbas reportedly declared that normalization with the Zionist entity is high treason against Palestine. Could it be that the Arab world are beginning to see the Palestinian leadership as the voice of a petulant child, rather than the mouthpiece of a noble resistance? Has the Arab world grown weary of their rejectionism?
It certainly appears that the Abraham Accords and their implications are leading Israel ever closer to peace and prosperity in Judea and Samaria, (the mountains), and setting the stage for the northern invader of Ezekiel 38. We wait to see how this peace will unfold for Israel and wait with even more anticipation for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The people that have been gathered out of many nations are dwelling in the land that has been brought back from the sword, just as Ezekiel wrote. The Restoration of Israel is dawning on the long night of gentile times, and may the great shofar continue to sound for the ingathering of the Jewish people.