Heather Johnston

Washington should support expanding Abraham Accords to benefit America

After a 6.8-magnitude earthquake and more than 2,000 tragic deaths, Morocco has been the recipient of various relief funding from across the world. One of the fastest responders? Israel.

In a conversation with his Moroccan counterpart, Abdellatif Loudiyi, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “A significant part of the Abraham Accords is our commitment to stand by our partners during national crises. The State of Israel is prepared to assist the Kingdom of Morocco during this difficult time.”

This level of support reinforces the commitment borne out of the Abraham Accords agreement, which has strengthened the communications and collaboration between the signatory countries.

It was three years ago, on September 15, 2020, when I stood on the White House Lawn and witnessed history unfold with the signing of the Abraham Accords, binding Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and later Morocco into strategic alignment.

The Abraham Accords shifted the focus from a fixation on conflict in the Middle East to creative and altruistic solutions that address regional ambitions and global challenges.

As a result of this diplomatic progress, I have spent the last few years educating bipartisan Members of Congress on America’s Medical Friend-shoring Solution, a comprehensive strategy to diversify and fortify America’s essential medical and pharmaceutical supply chains by shifting away from Chinese dominance and rerouting through America’s Abraham Accords partners.

The execution of this friend-shoring solution begins with creating a collaborative staging ground by establishing an FDA Bureau in one of the Abraham Accords countries. The House Appropriations Committee has already passed a bill with language calling for an FDA bureau in the region, and the full House will be voting on this bill soon. The Senate is also actively engaged on this front. But time is of the essence.

Amid heightening tensions with China, the United States should race toward alternative suppliers for its lifesaving medical and pharmaceutical resources. Should another global supply chain disruption occur, like during the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s national security challenges would be exacerbated for Americans already experiencing significant drug shortages. Our overdependence on China places Americans’ healthcare in an acutely vulnerable state and is reckless at best.

Instead of allowing China to control our healthcare fate, the prudent path would be to pursue medical and pharmaceutical supply chains with allies that are more amicable and stable – and that offer new and improved resources.

The Abraham Accords countries are well-positioned to absorb our medical and pharmaceutical supply chains. Israel and the UAE are on the cutting edge of some of the world’s leading technology and healthcare solutions, and they also boast robust biopharmaceutical industries that would greatly benefit the U.S.

Morocco is also well-suited with its strategic location, price competitiveness, and developed infrastructure compared to the rest of Africa. Firms from Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the United States are already investing millions of dollars in bolstering and expanding their drug production facilities in Morocco. Bahrain has also demonstrated its readiness to serve as a regional production hub. Since the pandemic, the country has prioritized strengthening domestic capabilities for greater self-reliance.

While much work remains ahead, reflecting upon the 3-year anniversary of this historic agreement serves as a critical reminder of the geopolitical advances achieved through the partnerships forged between the Abraham Accords countries. Issues such as climate change, water scarcity, energy innovation, and human rights have become integral aspects of ongoing discussions and plans.

Normalization among the Abraham Accords countries has already delivered hope to a region wrought with instability, opening a watershed of economic, diplomatic, trade, tourism, tech, and medical collaborative opportunities.

In the coming years, we can expect to see additional countries join the Abraham Accords – such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar – leading to even more paths for prosperity. In my nearly 25 years of involvement in the region, I dreamt this day would come, yet it still feels surreal.

In today’s world where a Russia-China-Iran axis threatens Israel and all democracies, the Abraham Accords provide a strong counter-alliance and a safeguard to the United States.

The U.S. government should be doing everything in its power, on both a Congressional and Executive level, to expand the Accords. We are safer for it.

Heather Johnston is the founder and chief executive officer of the U.S. Israel Education Association.

About the Author
Heather Johnston is executive director of the US Israel Education Association.