Dem Senate Hopefuls Mum on Historic Israel-U.A.E. Peace Deal

Trump’s historic peace accord met with silence by Democratic candidates

Israeli flag March Takes Place During Jerusalem Day
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August 14, 2020

Democratic Senate hopefuls are remaining silent about the Trump administration’s Thursday announcement that it had brokered a historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, an indication of the manner in which the issue has split progressive and mainstream Democrats.

Nearly all of 2020's top Democratic Senate challengers avoided making public statements about the agreement, which formally normalizes relations between the Arab nation and Israel. The U.A.E. is the first Gulf Arab nation to increase its relations with Israel, a move that sent shockwaves through the region and sparked anger from Palestinian leaders.

In the United States, the announcement was met with ambivalence by former Obama administration officials and outright hostility from Israel’s top critics in Congress. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), a frequent Israel critic who has been accused of spreading anti-Semitic rhetoric, said she "won’t be fooled" by an agreement that she described as a "sweetheart business deal."

The announcement puts Democrats in a tricky political position: While mainstream Democrats have advocated regional peace with Israel for years, they are hesitant to give President Donald Trump a win. Since Trump assumed office, the Democratic Party has argued that he is an irritant to global security. Yet the historic peace agreement between Israel and the U.A.E. shows that, behind the scenes, the administration has been working to broker an accord that will ultimately increase stability in the Middle East.

Among candidates for seats in states expected to determine Senate control next year, only Arizona's Mark Kelly has addressed the agreement, calling it an "important, positive step forward for our ally, Israel, and for lasting peace in the region." Democratic Senate nominees in Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Montana, and North Carolina have yet to acknowledge the deal following President Donald Trump's Thursday-morning announcement. None of the candidates responded to requests for comment from the Washington Free Beacon.

Also silent on the announcement is Sen. Gary Peters (D., Mich.), who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has called Israel "one of our strongest allies." Peters did not respond to a request for comment, nor did fellow Democratic Senate nominees in Kentucky, Georgia, and Texas—none of whom have issued public statements on the agreement.

Neil Strauss, spokesman for the Republican Jewish Coalition, said that remaining silent is preferable to "exposing yourself as clueless."
"The Israel-UAE peace deal absolutely exposes the Democrats' foreign policy strategy of appeasement of Iran as a failure," Strauss said. "President Trump’s strategy of maximum pressure and standing shoulder to shoulder with our trusted ally Israel, and the Arab states willing to stand up to Iran, is an absolute success."

While nearly all prominent Democratic Senate hopefuls have publicly ignored the announcement, a number of far-left Jewish groups conceded that the deal is beneficial for the region. Liberal Middle East advocacy group J Street—which has accused Israel of "fanning growing flames of anti-Semitism" and urged the United States to negotiate with terrorist group Hamas—welcomed the deal in a Thursday statement.

"The agreement between Israel and the U.A.E. to move toward full normalized ties is also welcome news for all who wish to see a stable and prosperous Israel living in peace and security alongside all of its regional neighbors," the statement said.