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Five Arab states are in normalisation talks with Israel, Palestinian official says

US President Donald Trump hosted the normalisation signing ceremony [The White House/Tia Dufour/Handout]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2020

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US President Donald Trump has said US-brokered normalisation deals are close between Israel and 'five or six' other Arab countries.
Israel is in normalisation talks with five other Muslim-majority countries, a Palestinian Authority official has said according to Israeli news media, following accords struck between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Oman, Sudan, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania are said to be in talks with Israel to normalise relationsPalestinian minister Ahmad Majdalani has said in comments shared by Israeli Kann News.

The news comes days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed agreements establishing full diplomatic ties at a ceremony at the White House.

None of the five countries mentioned have as of yet indicated that they intend to sign a normalisation treaty with Israel.

But Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said last month that Oman could also reach an agreement with Israel soon. Oman also welcomed the Bahrain-Israel normalisation deal signed in Washington this week.

Read more: Sudan's cost-benefit analysis puts normalising ties with Israel on hold, for now

Sudan is also believed to be on the cusp of fully recognising Israel. By normalising their relations with Israel, it is believed Khartoum hopes to be removed from the blacklist of states that sponsor terrorism. 

Oman and Sudan, as well as Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania, could be the "five or six" countries hinted at by US President Donald Trump earlier this week.

'Very quickly'

President Trump said Tuesday that similar US-brokered normalisation deals are close between the Jewish state and "five or six" more Arab countries.

"We're very far down the road with about five countries, five additional countries," Trump said as he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office, ahead of a signing ceremony with both Arab states for the US-brokered deal.

"We'll have at least five or six countries coming along very quickly, we're already talking to them," Trump said.

"We've had great talks with Saudi Arabia. I think their mind is very open," said Trump who also met with Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani ahead of the signing ceremony.

For the Middle East, the deals dubbed the Abraham Accords mark a distinct shift in a decades-old status quo where Arab countries have tried to maintain unity against Israel over its treatment of the stateless Palestinians.

"After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East," Trump said as the signing ceremony began.

'Betrayal'

Bahrain and the UAE are the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that only an Israeli withdrawal from its occupied territories could bring peace to the Middle East.

The signing of the two agreements at a White House ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump prompted protest rallies across the Palestinian territories.

The deals broke with decades of Arab consensus that there would be no normalisation of relations with Israel until it had made peace with the Palestinians.

The US-backed initiatives by the UAE and Bahrain have been condemned by the Palestinians as a "betrayal" of their struggle to end the Israeli occupation and establish their own state.

Trump has nonetheless voiced confidence the Palestinians would eventually sign on to the US-brokered peace agreements - which he hopes will boost his reelection chances in November.

Read more: Kanye West claims Jared Kushner is bringing 'peace to the Middle East'

"The Palestinians will absolutely be a member. I don't say that with any bravado, I just tell you the Palestinians will be a member at the right time," Trump said.

Under the deal with the UAE, Israel agreed to suspend planned annexations in the West Bank, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the project remains on the table.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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