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The Future of Arab-Israeli Diplomacy

February 4, 2021


  • Eliot A. Cohen, Dean of the Johns Hopkins SAIS
  • Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the US
  • Jeremy Issacharoff, Ambassador of Israel to Germany
  • Moderated by Ambassador Eric S. Edelman, Roger Hertog Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS

The latest Brzezinski Current Issues Seminar featured a discussion on the future of Arab – Israeli diplomacy.

Cohen began the conversation by noting the major progress towards peace between Arab nations and Israel that has transpired in the last year. Otaiba and Issacharoff offered perspective on how the cooperation began and developed between their two nations with both commenting on how the United Arab Emirates and Israel were often in agreement with one another. Issacharoff noted that a warming of relations essentially began in 2001-2002 as both nations coalesced around the shared threat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Furthermore, he explained how discreet cooperation, including with other Gulf players, was essentially a realization of the broader sweep throughout the region.
During the conversation, it was emphasized how both the United Arab Emirates and Israel share many similarities, including in depoliticizing and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural technology, trade, tourism, and people to people connections. While the shared threat of Iranian missiles, proxies, and interference, did help ultimately bring relations out in the open, both Ambassadors believed that Iran was but a small part of the larger story in the normalization narrative. Even then, they agreed that the U.S. should hold its enemies to the same ‘Golden Standard’ it holds its friends, and bring regional countries into an agreement before any new deal, as the ground realities have changed. The Ambassadors also noted that improving the Palestinian quality of life, was more important than trying to solve the political problems.

The event concluded with an emphasis to further the ties between the two represented nations.