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Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Senators introduce bill to build on Abraham Accords, normalize Israel relations

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U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jim Risch (R-ID), Todd Young (R-IN), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced last week the Israel Relations Normalization Act of 2021, hoping to strengthen and expand peace and normalization agreements between Israel and surrounding nations.

The bill builds on the success of the Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Additionally, the bill will require coordination of the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“In my visits to the Middle East, I’ve seen the deep and abiding friendships that exist and the potential for long-term peace and stability,” said Portman. “This bill will encourage normalization of relations between Israel and other countries in the region, which will help build on the success of the Abraham Accords, support our ally Israel and enshrine the longstanding U.S. policy that encourages Arab League states to normalize relations with Israel. Finally, Congress has an opportunity to act in a bipartisan way with this bill, which would send an important signal of unity and solidarity to the international community at a critical time.”

The bill would require the State Department to provide a strategy to strengthen and expand the Abraham Accords and other normalization agreements with Israel through assessment of future staffing, areas of cooperation, and potential areas of security cooperation. The State Department would be required to provide a detailed description of how the U.S. Government will leverage diplomatic lines of effort and resources from other stakeholders to encourage normalization, economic development, and people-to-people programming.

Additionally, the bill requires a report on international efforts to promote normalization and a report from the State Department on the status of anti-normalization laws in Arab states and other relevant countries and regions.

“Expanding the Abraham Accords to strengthen the relationship between Israel and its neighbors is not only a vital U.S. security interest but is also important for peace and economic prosperity in the region,” said Senator Booker. “Our bipartisan bill leverages American diplomacy to build on momentum to enable the Abraham Accords to reach their full potential. I’m proud to reaffirm the strong bipartisan commitment to Israel’s security.”