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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Israel and Arab world: four accords and secret visit

Morocco on Thursday became the latest Arab state to recognise Israel, after three other agreements that were reached this year.

Morocco on Thursday became the latest Arab state to recognise Israel, after three other agreements that were reached this year.

Here is a recap of the developments in the Jewish state’s ongoing rapprochement with the Arab world.

Huge breakthrough

In a surprise announcement on August 13, US President Donald Trump says Israel and the United Arab Emirates have reached an agreement to normalise ties.

In a tweet he hails a “HUGE breakthrough” and a “Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the agreement means “a new era began in the relations between Israel and the Arab world”.

Then Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden says “Israel and the United Arab Emirates have taken a historic step to bridge the deep divides of the Middle East.”

The UAE says that under the deal Israel agrees to “suspend” annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, but Netanyahu says the annexation has simply been put off.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas calls the deal a “betrayal” of their cause, including their claim to east Jerusalem as a capital of their future state.

Stab in the back

On September 11, Trump announces that Bahrain and Israel will also normalise ties.

On September 15, the two Gulf states, which have never been in conflict with Israel, sign the accords at the White House.

Read more: Wars and peace: Israel ties with the Arab world

The Palestinians condemn the agreements as a “stab in the back”. Weeks later, Israel approves plans for 4,948 more settler homes in the West Bank.

Sudan too

On October 23, Sudan normalises ties as Trump agrees to take it off a US sanctions blacklist of states which allegedly sponsor terrorism.

Trump says that “at least five more” Arab countries want to normalise their relations with Israel.

Secret visit

Reports on November 23 that Netanyahu made a secret visit to Saudi Arabia also spark a flurry of speculation that the two countries were about to normalise ties.

The kingdom denies that a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took place.

Read more: Israel reports say PM met Saudi crown prince, Riyadh denies

But a peace deal with Riyadh, which has said it would stick to the decades-old Arab League position of not having ties with Israel until its conflict with the Palestinians is resolved, would be a massive diplomatic prize for the Jewish state.

Morocco breakthrough

On Thursday, Morocco becomes the fourth Arab state this year to recognise Israel in a diplomatic breakthrough that also sees Washington backing Moroccan rule over the disputed Western Sahara region.

Previously, Egypt and Jordan were the only Arab states to have peace agreements with Israel.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk