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The New Arab

Saudi crown prince could soon meet Israel's Netanyahu in historic Cairo summit

Washington is promoting a meeting between Netanyahu and the Saudi crown prince. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2020

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Intensive talks are taking place between Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Cairo to arrange a summit in Egypt where Arab and Israeli leaders can meet.
The United States is seeking to engineer a historic meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a summit in Egypt, Israel Hayom revealed Friday.

"Intensive" talks are allegedly taking place between the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to arrange a summit in Cairo where the two leaders could meet, senior Arab officials told the Israeli newspaper.

The officials also said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been mediating between Israel and Saudi Arabia on the issue for months. 

"In recent days there have been very intensive discussions between Washington, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to arrange a summit meeting in Cairo as early as the coming weeks, even before the election in Israel, which aside from the host, Egypt, will be attended by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and also the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain and Oman," a senior Arab diplomatic source told Israel Hayom.

If such a summit were to take place, President Donald Trump's peace plan for Israel and Palestine would likely feature high on the agenda.

The White House revealed the long-awaited details of the so-called "Deal of the Century" last month. It has since been rejected by the Palestinians, the Arab League and by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

But ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman attended the Tuesday unveiling in Washington, in a tacit sign of support for the US initiative.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Arab states that are close US allies, have said they appreciated Trump's efforts and called for renewed negotiations without commenting on the plan's content.

The proposal makes numerous concessions to Israel, including the establishment of a Palestinian capital in Abu Dis and the annexation of all illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, but is currently on the path of normalising relations with the country despite an official Arab League boycott of the country.

Israel has peace deals with only two Arab countries - Jordan and Egypt - but its occupation of Palestinian territory has long served as a major factor preventing similar accords with the rest of the Arab world.

Jordan reportedly also received an invitation to attend the summit but King Abdullah wanted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to receive a summit invitation, a senior official said.

A senior PA official told Israel Hayom that the Palestinians had discussed the matter with the US but that for the time being "Abbas and the leadership in Ramallah would adhere to their boycott of Washington and to freezing diplomatic ties with Israel".

The White House told the PA that "this would likely be Abbas' and the Palestinians' last chance to climb down from the tree and partake in the diplomatic developments unfolding in the region," according to the official.

Abbas is set to arrive in New York City on Monday and address the UN Security Council on Tuesday on the US plan.

Read more: Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas suspends relations with the US, Israel

While in New York, Abbas will hold a press conference with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service on Friday.

Olmert is expected to express his opposition to the plan, according to Israel Hayom.

Meanwhile, Trump's son-in-law and architect of the peace plan Jared Kushner claimed Abbas was "surprised with how good the plan was for the Palestinian people".

"But he locked himself into a position before it came out and I don't know why he did that," he added.

The PA rejected Kushner's accusations of incitement on Friday, linking the violence instead to the 'Deal of the Century' itself, which gives Israel the green light to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, while retaining overriding control over security, border checkpoints and air and maritime space over isolated cantons proposed to make up a Palestinian mini-state.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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