According to Israel’s outgoing ambassador to Washington D.C., the next few months could bring exciting developments in the area of Israel’s relations with other countries in the region as the Abraham Accords are expanded.
In a special interview with Israel Hayom in advance of the end of his tenure, former Likud minister Gilad Erdan described the intensive efforts being made by the current American administration to persuade more countries to normalize their relations with Israel.
Erdan, who is also Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, a post he will continue to hold even after leaving Washington, told Israel Hayom that, “The Abraham Accords are an excellent example of policies the US administration has adopted in spite of the political polarization in the United States. At first, they were somewhat hesitant about it, and they absorbed a lot of criticism in Congress, but they persevered nonetheless.”
“Over time,” Erdan continued, “the administration actually intensified its efforts to incorporate additional countries and to leverage its influence on significant Muslim countries which do not currently have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, in the hope that peace treaties would result. The officials dealing with these efforts are higher level than those in the past, and I hope that we will soon see the fruits of their labors, even within the next few months. The current administration is investing heavily in this area,” he noted.
Erdan also stressed that Israel needs to be doing more to invest in building ties with the younger generation of Americans, and specifically with African-Americans. “Mainstream Democrats support Israel, but the Palestinians have succeeded in connecting up with the Black Lives Matter movement, even though there is really nothing linking the two narratives.”
According to Erdan, one of the main challenges for Erdan’s successor in Washington, Mike Herzog, will be dealing with the growing rivalry between the United States and China. “China is a desirable partner to have in economic terms given her cheap and swift labor, and she does not have many competitors here in Israel for the big projects Chinese investors are undertaking. On the other hand, there is bipartisan agreement in the United States that China represents a strategic threat, and the US administration wants to see its allies take the same line with regard to China, so that’s something that could be challenging for Israel in the future.”
As for Erdan’s own future plans, the ambassador refused to be drawn, including on whether he plans to run for the leadership of the Likud party.