On August 13, the Trump administration presented to the world the Abraham Accord peace agreement, signed by Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the wake of the normalization between Israel and a third Arab country, Bahrain joined one month later, and now many other Gulf states such as Oman and Saudi Arabia could follow suit to make peace with Israel.
This news was welcomed by political pundits believing the peace deals mark a positive shift for the conflict-ridden region, with calls for the nomination of President Trump to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. On the other hand, some countries such as Qatar fear the deals failed to include Palestine in any decision-making that could affect the safety of the struggling nation, and remain committed to the Arab Peace Plan that ties normalizing relations with Jerusalem to ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
In fact, back in 2016 then-Secretary of State John Kerry predicted there would be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world without peace with Palestinians.
FLASHBACK: Former Secretary of State & Middle-East Scholar John Kerry In 2016:
"There will be no advanced & separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process & Palestinian peace. Everybody needs to understand that. That is a hard reality."
"No. No, no, & no." pic.twitter.com/l68VP29Rlq
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 17, 2020
However, the Abraham Accord proved that prediction wrong, and exposes a blind spot in the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran and the nuclear deal. They failed to appreciate the threat of Iran to both the Arab Gulf states and Israel.
Iran vs. Arab world and Israel
Despite conventional wisdom that Israel is Iran’s number one target as “little Satan” and U.S. as “Great Satan”, according to a California Pastor there is an even bigger target should Tehran acquire a nuclear weapon—Saudi Arabia.
Pastor Ray Bentley of Maranatha Chapel presented an interesting thesis for the motivation of Arab states to now seek peace with Israel. Other than the pragmatic reasons of needing Israel’s technology, medical research and military wares, an overriding fear is Iran’s ambition to unite the Muslim world under its leadership.
Given 85-90% of the Muslim world are Sunnis and only 10% are Shiites, it would be difficult for Iran to unite the Muslim world unless it first removes its competitor Saudi Arabia. As such the California pastor argues the first target of an Iranian nuclear weapon would be Riyadh, not Jerusalem, which provided the compelling force that brought together the Jews and their Arab cousins under one security umbrella.
Hence the peace deal is named the Abraham Accord to bring the Abrahamic family together, as both the Jews and Arabs are descendants of Abraham via Sarah, Hagar and his second wife Ketura. Also, there are those who believe the Abraham Accord is a fulfilment of the prophetic “covenant with many.”
“Covenant with many”
According to some interpretations of the Bible, the covenant of many is a future peace deal or treaty that will precede the rise of the Antichrist and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is outlined in the Book of Daniel 9:27, and some have suggested Israel’s recent bid to establish links with many Arab states marks the beginning of the covenant.
The Daniel prophecy states “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of the temple will come the abomination that causes desolation, until the decreed destruction is poured out upon him,” referring to the Third Temple of Jerusalem which presently does not exist.
As such many remain skeptical, while the Biden campaign is now pushing for a return to the Obama administration’s JCPOA and “rebalancing” American foreign policy between Iran and the Arab world. Should Biden win, it may be interesting to see if his support of the Iran nuclear deal ends up confirming the “covenant of many” as more Arab states are driven to go under the Abraham Accord umbrella.