After accompanying an Israeli delegation to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for normalisation talks, White House adviser Jared Kushner set off on a tour of other Gulf capitals on Tuesday, looking for more Arab support.
Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, had accompanied the Israeli delegation on Monday on what was billed as the first Israeli commercial flight to the influential Gulf monarchy, which agreed in August to normalise relations.
Israel and the UAE announced on Tuesday that they had set up a joint committee to cooperate on financial services at the talks in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
The Palestinians have denounced the normalisation deal, which they say violates a longstanding pan-Arab position that Israel could normalise relations only in return for land.
Israel exchanged embassies with neighbours Egypt and Jordan under peace deals decades ago.
But until now, all other Arab states had demanded it first cede more land to the Palestinians.
Bahrain praises UAE
Kushner later flew to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and then Qatar.
While no other Arab country has yet indicated a willingness to follow the UAE, the richest, Saudi Arabia, allowed the El Al charter flight carrying Kushner and the Israelis to use its airspace.
In remarks reported by the UAE state news agency WAM, Kushner suggested other Arab states could follow quickly.
Asked when the next would normalise ties with Israel, he was quoted as saying: “Let’s hope it’s months.”
In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Kushner discussed the need for the Palestinians and the Israelis to resume negotiations and reach a lasting peace, state news agency SPA reported.
In Bahrain, which houses the US naval headquarters for the region, the state news agency reported that during his meeting with Kushner, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had praised the role the UAE has played in defending Arab and Islamic interests.
Kushner was told by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani that his country supports the two-state solution according to international law, a statement from the the Amiri Diwan said.
On Tuesday, a UAE official said Abu Dhabi had obtained a major concession from Israel and the US to halt plans to annex territory on the occupied West Bank.
However, when asked if annexation would mean the normalisation process would collapse, foreign ministry official Jamal al-Musharakh said: “It does not.”
He said the UAE could not predict Israel’s future moves and that relations have developed “in several fields, and one isn’t prioritised over the other”.
Israel has insisted that annexation remains a possibility.
In a fiery speech on Tuesday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said: “The Emiratis will be disgraced forever for this treachery against the Islamic world, Arab nations and Palestine.
“The UAE, along with Israelis and evil Americans like the Jewish member of Trump’s family, are working together against the interests of the Islamic world,” Khamenei said, referring to Kushner, who is Jewish.
Asked about Khamenei’s remarks, Musharakh told reporters in Abu Dhabi: “The path to peace and prosperity is not paved with incitement and hate speech.”
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The Arab states of the Persian Gulf are the seven Arab states which border the Persian Gulf, namely Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).This excludes the non-Arab state of Iran. All of these nations except Iraq are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).