Civil Society, Insecurity and Arab Support for Normalization with Israel: Contextualizing the Abraham Accords

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Mediterranean Politics

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Extant literature suggests that public support for peace accords plays a role in their durability. Yet while the Abraham Accords represent significant rapprochement between governments, the region is marked by the conditions of violence and insecurity that harm social trust and reduce the likelihood of conciliatory views among citizens. Using Arab Barometer data from twelve countries (2012–2014), I explore the factors that lead Arab citizens to be more supportive of normalization. I argue that while instability undermines the demand for peace, civil society engagement develops bonding and bridging social capital that supports conciliatory views. I find that perceived insecurity is negatively related to support for Arab-Israeli peace, yet greater social capital, in the form of tolerance, associational membership, and social media use, produced demand for peace. Country of residence and religious identity are important predictors, with Sunni and Shi’a Muslims being less conciliatory towards Israel than Christians. Contrary to assumptions underlying US foreign policy, participating in politics by voting in democratic or authoritarian elections or protesting were related to lower demand for peace. By illustrating the role that civil society and perceived security play, the results have implications for scholars of security studies and policymakers working to support peacemaking.


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