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US pressuring Saudi Arabia to join Israel-UAE meeting in Abu Dhabi: Report

A Palestinian demonstrator burns a picture depicting US President Donald Trump during a protest against the United Arab Emirates' deal with Israel to normalize relations, in Gaza City, on August 19, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

A new report has revealed that the Americans are mounting pressure on Saudi Arabia to join a trilateral summit of Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US, which is due to be held in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said on Sunday that Saudi envoys may arrive in Abu Dhabi on Monday to join the trilateral summit, which will focus on the normalization deal that Washington brokered between Israel and the UAE earlier this month.

Earlier, Reuters quoted an informed source as saying that an Israeli airliner will fly to the UAE on Monday with aides to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump aboard to put final touches on the normalization pact.

The Israeli report said Jared Kushner, an advisor to Trump, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, US Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and other US officials will travel to the UAE together with an Israeli delegation led by Meir Ben-Shabbat, the regime’s security advisor.

Meanwhile, Kushner is also trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to join the signing ceremony of the normalization agreement in October.

“Ahead of the planned event in Washington, Kushner and his aides have recently been working with [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed] bin Salman to approve the dispatching of high-ranking Saudi envoys to Abu Dhabi as early as tomorrow, in parallel with the arrival of the Israeli delegation,” Yedioth Ahronoth said.

The Middle East Eye news portal had previously revealed that bin Salman had pulled out of a planned visit to Washington DC to meet Netanyahu after he received reports that news of his trip had been leaked.

Sources told MEE that Trump and Kushner have been pushing for the meeting to happen to relaunch bin Salman's image as a young Arab peacemaker and shore up regional support for the deal between Israel and the UAE.

The US-mediated agreement for the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel has already drawn stern reactions from the Muslim world, Palestinians in particular, and has been described as an act of treason and betrayal of the cause of Palestine by Palestinians and other Muslims nations.

Riyadh has no formal relations with Tel Aviv, but the two regimes have long had clandestine contacts. Under bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, the kingdom has stepped up its overtures towards Israel.

Saudi Arabia reacted cautiously to the Israel-UAE deal, saying it will stand by a 2002 Arab peace initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, without condemning the agreement that has angered supporters of the Palestinian cause.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Kushner, however, said it was inevitable that the Riyadh regime would follow suit in forging ties with Israel.

“I do think that we have other countries that are very interested in moving forward,” he added. “And then, as that progresses, I do think it is an inevitability that Saudi Arabia and Israel will have fully normalized relations.”

In highly controversial comments during an April 2018 visit to the US, bin Salman told the Atlantic that he recognized Israel’s “right to exist,” distancing himself from the kingdom’s longtime policy of opposing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

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