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Kushner says more Arab states will normalise Israel relations - these countries could be next Open in fullscreen

Kushner says more Arab states will normalise Israel relations - these countries could be next

Jared Kushner described the UAE-Israel deal as an 'icebreaker' [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 August, 2020

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Senior adviser Jared Kushner has hinted that more Arab countries will normalise relations with Israel.




US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and special adviser, Jared Kushner, has hinted that other Arab countries could soon normalise ties with Israel after the United Arab Emirates made a controversial deal slammed as a “betrayal” of the Palestinians.

“We hope this is an icebreaker where Israel can now normalise relations with other countries,” Kushner said at a press conference shortly after Trump announced the agreement.

Kushner added that he thought there was a “very good chance” other Arab countries will also engage in pacts with Israel in the coming months.

“We have a couple who were upset that they weren’t first,” Kushner said. “But … we will work very hard to create more and more normalisations over the coming time ahead.”

“I do think that this makes them more inevitable,” he continued. “But it will take trust being built and dialogue being facilitated. Hopefully, this makes it easier for others.”

A reporter asked Kushner if he had any idea which countries could be next.

“Who is next?” Kushner asked back. “You will find out next.”

Who could be next?

Some Gulf states welcomes the deal reached between Israel and the UAE, and commentators argue that they could be the next in line to strike a peace deal.

Bahrain was one of the first Arab states to welcome the controversial deal, congratulating the UAE for reaching a deal that it said suspends Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands while “taking steps to enhance the chances for Middle East peace”.

Oman said it backed the normalisation of ties between the neighbouring UAE and Israel, and hoped the move would help achieve a lasting Middle East peace.

A foreign ministry spokesman expressed the sultanate's "support for the UAE’s decision regarding relations with Israel", according to a statement on Oman's official news agency. Egypt - the first Arab state to sign a peace agreement with Israel back in 1979 - also welcomed the pact on Thursday.

"I read with interest and great appreciation the joint statement between the United States, the brotherly United Arab Emirates and Israel concerning the halt of Israel's annexation of Palestinian land," Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a tweet, adding that this would help bring "peace" to the Middle East.

"I appreciate the efforts of the architects of this agreement for the prosperity and stability of our region," Sisi said.

Normalisation?

In a move that shocked the world, Donald Trump on Thursday announced that Israel and the UAE had reached a peace agreement brokered by the US.

The normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel is a "HUGE breakthrough" Trump tweeted, calling it a "Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends."

Speaking to reporters later, Trump suggested that more diplomatic 'breakthroughs' between Israel and its Muslim neighbours in the region were expected.

"Things are happening that I can't talk about," he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as "a historic day and a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East."

"The United States hopes that this brave step will be the first in a series of agreements that ends 72 years of hostilities in the region," Pompeo said.

Kushner did not specify where the UAE’s embassy will be located; if the embassy will be in Jerusalem, the move would be a de-facto acknowledgement that Jerusalem, an occupied territory, belongs to Israel.

“They will decide that,” Kushner said, responding to a question about the embassy.

Secret meetings

Kushner revealed that many parts of the deal, brokered by the US and a year and a half in the making, was conducted behind the scenes.

“Not a lot of the moves were visible for the public to see,” Kushner said, “but there was a lot of action behind the scenes. Had we been telegraphing that we were working on this, it would have made it a lot harder for it to happen.”

The three countries had been engaged in negotiations for six weeks and finalised details on Wednesday, Kushner revealed.

Kushner said, the president “was able to get Israel to agree to have a two-state solution with the Palestinians — and, for the first time in history, to agree to a map that outlined the territory that they would be willing to work with”.

Annexation plans stalled, not cancelled

Israel's planned annexation of large parts of the occupied West Bank as only been "delayed" and not cancelled following the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.

Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed had earlier stated the Gulf nation had reached an agreement with Israel "to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories" as part of a deal to normalise relations.

In a separate statement, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said the agreement had dealt a "death blow" to annexation.

The US-brokered pact is only the third such agreement of its kind between Israel and an Arab state.

"At the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in" the Trump peace plan unveiled earlier this year, the statement said, referring to plans to annex most Israeli settlements and other Palestinian territories in the occupied West Bank.

Despite bin Zayed's statement, Israel's annexation plans remain "on the table", Netanyahu told reporters at a press conference later on Thursday.

Annexation "will be done only alongside the United States," the Israeli premier said. "Without coordination, in the best case, will do nothing, and in the worst case, will harm relations between us."

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