29. Give Abraham Accords States Credit for Breakthroughs

Giving normalizing states credit for any breakthroughs on the Israeli-Palestinian front will increase their willingness to be involved Israeli-Palestinian issues and make any Israeli concessions more politically palatable. This is the dynamic that played out with regard to annexation, and it is replicable across the board. The popularity of normalization with the Israeli public far outstripped the popularity of West Bank annexation, and once the UAE clearly stated in no uncertain terms that the former could not advance unless plans for the latter were suspended, it created an incentive structure for Israeli decision makers that pointed in only one direction. It also made normalization more politically viable for the UAE by allowing the Emirati government to claim credibly that it had stood up for Palestinian rights as a condition of normalization.

Leveraging the popularity of normalization with the Israeli public can work in this sphere on other issues beyond annexation. If future normalization is connected with proposals such as turning over parts of Area C to PA control, reopening PA institutions in East Jerusalem, freezing new settlement construction beyond the security barrier, or forswearing annexation permanently, Israelis’ desire for normalization can eliminate some of the political costs associated with these ideas when they are presented as Israeli concessions that bring no immediate tangible gains. By the same token, such steps would correct the impression that the normalization process deserted the Palestinians, and instead demonstrate that normalization could deliver tangible benefits for them as well, thus ameliorating resentment and incentivizing the Palestinians to explore further how they can gain from the normalization process in their pursuit of statehood. A recent example was Morocco’s role in pushing for and developing new procedures at the Allenby Bridge to improve the experience for Palestinians crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.

Link to New Normal study https://israelpolicyforum.org/thenewnormal/