US House of Representatives establishes special envoy for Abraham Accords

Thomas Helm

The National  /  June 14, 2023

Post needs to be approved in the Senate, but its early success is a sign of US determination to better ties between Israel and the Arab world.

The US House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday that mandates the Biden administration to appoint a special envoy dedicated to the Abraham Accords.

The House gave overwhelming support to the proposal, which passed with 413 votes in favour and 13 against.

The post, which holds the same rank as ambassador, would focus on getting more countries to join the historic 2020 arrangement, in which the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco normalized relations with Israel.

The role would also focus on consolidating ties between current signatories.

Posts at the rank of ambassador also require approval in the polarized Senate, although the US push to improve relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours has notably bipartisan support.

The legislation comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the beginning of the month that the Biden administration was seeking to create an unspecified post to boost the Accords.

Also in June, Mr Blinken travelled to Saudi Arabia for a three-day visit in part to discuss the Arab state normalizing relations with Israel.

In an interview with Sky News last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia is a priority for his government and that such a development would be a “quantum leap forward” and “change history”.

“[Normalization] would fashion I think the possibility of ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, and I think that would also help us solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” he added.

Saudi Arabia has said that it is open to discussions on the issue, but would probably seek significant concessions from the US, as well as Israel, regarding its stance towards the Palestinians.

The kingdom has long maintained that it will not normalize ties with Israel until a Palestinian state is established along pre-1967 lines.

Thomas Helm is Jerusalem Correspondent at The National