US House of Reps. promotes special envoy role to advance Abraham Accords

June 14, 2023

The Jerusalem Post

By Tovah Lazaroff

The US House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill to create the diplomatic position of ambassador for the Abraham Accords to help advance Israel’s normalization with its Arab neighbors, particularly with Saudi Arabia.

“The addition of a special envoy will be critical for bringing Saudi Arabia into the accords and continuing to strengthen and expand them,” Rep. Mike Lawler (R-New York) said.

According to the bill, which was approved in a 413-13 vote on Tuesday evening, the new envoy “would serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the US Government relating to expanding and strengthening the Abraham Accords.”

The envoy would “engage in discussions with nation-state officials lacking official diplomatic relations with Israel regarding the Abraham Accords,” the bill says.

Such an envoy would “consult with representatives of nongovernmental organizations that have attempted to expand and strengthen the Abraham Accords,” it says.

The bill’s passage was a testament to the strong bond between Israeli and the United States, Lawler said.

“The overwhelming bipartisan support for my bill shows that working for peace in the Middle East isn’t a Republican value or a Democrat value, but rather an American value,” he said.

“Israel remains our strongest ally and a beacon of democracy in the region,” he added. “The Abraham Accords not only guarantee Israel’s recognition by its neighbors, but also present the hope of continued progress toward peace and prosperity across the region.

“We have never been closer to peace in the Middle East than we are today, and that is something that all of us, regardless of party or policy differences, can celebrate,” Lawler said.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-New York), who co-sponsored the bill, said: “We are bending the long arc of the Middle East in its proper direction – toward peace and prosperity for Jewish people, Christians and Muslims – the children of Abraham standing together as one.”

“The Senate should move swiftly to consider and pass this legislation, advancing it to the president’s desk so we can codify the role of special envoy for the Abraham Accords into law,” he added.

Biden administration working to expand Abraham Accords

Passage of the bill, which now moves to the Senate, comes as the Biden administration is actively seeking to expand the accords created under the Trump administration, by which Israel normalized its ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

The Biden administration has focused on a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about the Biden administration’s desire to create such a position when he addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee earlier this month.

There has been some speculation that former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro could be tapped to fill the role.