‘You’ll see interesting things’: US hints at new Arab-Israeli ties during Biden’s visit

A senior US official indicated on Wednesday that more Arab countries were signaling better relations with Israel as US President Joe Biden prepares to visit the region next month.

Biden will attend a regional summit in Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia from July 13 to 16, presented by former US President Donald Trump in the hope that the kingdom of the holiest sites in Islam would recognize the Jewish state. ۔

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said the Biden administration was encouraging greater cooperation between Israel and the Arab countries with which it has relations.

“We are working in a place that is not in the public domain, with the other two countries. And I think you will see some interesting things during the president’s visit,” he told a congressional subcommittee. ۔

Asked to explain, Leif said, “I really don’t want to step on the president’s toes.”

The UAE, Bahrain and Morocco became the first Arab states in decades in 2020 to normalize relations with Israel as part of the so-called Ibrahim Accord, which Trump called a major foreign policy achievement. Sudan has also signaled its readiness to normalize relations, but it has largely frozen amid unrest in the African country.

Barbara Leaf is currently the US Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. (Tech Sergeant Anthony Nelson Jr. / US Air Force)

Leif said relations between the UAE and Israel were “going like gangbusters” but that the Biden administration also wanted to encourage greater co-operation.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken joined his March counterparts from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain and Egypt at a meeting in Israel’s Negev desert.

Leif said the United States wants the event to be annual and include the Palestinian Authority and Jordan – the only Arab country that recognizes Israel but has seen growing tensions over its status as Jerusalem.

The meetings are aimed at deepening co-operation in areas including water, tourism, health and food security, Leif said.

Israel has also sought a common cause for its strained relations with the Gulf Arab states and Iran’s Shiite religious state.

Separately on Wednesday, the Axios news site reported that the White House was working on a “normal roadmap” between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The plan was revealed during a briefing with think tank experts last week, four sources familiar with the matter said.

US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Collage / AP)

Those present were given some additional details, but briefing the meeting, US officials made it clear that there would be no agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia during Biden’s visit to the Middle East.

Another source told Axios that the Biden administration is pursuing a gradual process that will take time.

A senior Israeli official told NewsSite that although no major developments were expected during Biden’s trip, a small agreement allowed Israeli airlines to use Saudi airspace for flights to India and China. Will

Also on Wednesday, Channel 12 aired an interview with a senior Saudi journalist who said he was close to the country’s leaders, who claimed that the Gulf state could normalize relations with Israel. Even without US mediation.

“In my opinion, the US president does not need to meditate between Tel Aviv and other countries,” Mubarak al-Atti, director of Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al-Akhbariya radio, said in a video broadcast on Channel 12.

“The negotiating table is open, and we can talk openly,” al-Atti said, referring to recent remarks by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Israel could be a “potential ally” of Riyadh.

“Nothing is stopping relations with Israel; and I think all indications are that Israel could be part of Saudi Arabia’s network of contacts,” he added.

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