Gulf states have offered normalised relations in exchange for renewed push for peace with Palestinians, report says
May 17, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – Numerous Gulf states have offered a deal to normalise relations with Israel if Tel Aviv takes steps to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, according to reports.
The offer to normalise relations come a week before Donald Trump visits Saudi Arabia and Israel in his first foreign trip as US president.
The Wall Street Journal said numerous Gulf states were prepared to set up telecommunication lines between the countries, open trade negotiations and allow planes to fly over their airspace.
In exchange, Israel would have to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and relax trade restrictions with the Gaza Strip.
The proposals to normalise relations with Israel were outlined in an unreleased discussion paper shared among several Arab states, obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
The paper, according to WSJ, was intended to demonstrate the Gulf states’ commitment to align itself to Trump’s foreign policy, who has stressed a desire to work with Arab states to forge a Middle East peace agreement.
His first foreign trip as president is due to take place in a week and include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.
Trump was due to convene Arab leaders from across the region alongside Saudi royal family members in Riyadh.
He was expected to offer details for the first time on his vision for peace between Israelis and Palestinians in a press conference in Jerusalem.
On Monday, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Mohamed Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, met Trump in Washington.
The Gulf states’ initiative, according to those briefed, underscores the vastly improved relations between Israel and the Gulf states in recent years, driven by their shared concerns about Iran and Islamic State.
Arab and Palestinian leaders, however, remain deeply sceptical that Netanyahu is committed to embracing the peace process.
In recent days, members of his government have increased pressure on Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
After his visit to Israel, Trump is then expected to meet Pope Francis in the Vatican.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have been major financial backers of the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, since its inception in the 1990s.
Israel and Gulf countries have secretly stepped up intelligence sharing, particularly focused on Iranian arms shipments to proxy militias fighting in Yemen and Syria, according to US, European and the Middle East officials involved in security issues.
Qatar, however, has allowed for Hamas to set up a headquarters in Doha.
Israeli officials have also made a number of secret trips to the Gulf, particularly to the UAE, despite their countries having no formal diplomatic relations.
This article was first published by MEE