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Biden, Trump officials to attend DC event marking anniversary of Abraham Accords

Initiative’s co-architect Jared Kushner will offer opening remarks, followed by panel with UAE, Bahrain and Israel envoys to US; representatives from Egypt, Jordan will also attend

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

In this September 15, 2020, file photo, from left; former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former US president Donald Trump, and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, sit during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
In this September 15, 2020, file photo, from left; former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former US president Donald Trump, and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, sit during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Senior officials from the Biden and Trump administrations will make a rare joint appearance at an event marking the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords next week in Washington, the confab’s organizers told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

The Tuesday event at the Four Seasons Hotel is being organized by the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, which was launched by Jared Kushner, former president Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, and one of the main brokers of the normalization agreements Israel signed last year with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

Kushner will be in attendance and offer opening remarks, said AAPI executive director Robert Greenway, who was senior director for Middle Eastern affairs on Trump’s National Security Council when the Abraham Accords were signed.

After Kushner’s address, Greenway will moderate a panel featuring the ambassadors of some of the countries represented in the accords — Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan, UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba and Bahrain Ambassador to the US Sheikh Abdullah bin Rashid al-Khalifa. The panel will be followed by a private luncheon for those in attendance.

Also in attendance will be members of Congress, senior representatives from the US State Department along with representatives from Egypt and Jordan, which “laid the foundation for the Abraham Accords” by being the first Arab countries to sign peace deals with Israel in 1979 and 1994 respectively, Greenway said.

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, center, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, fourth left, and Israeli and American delegations pose for a photo before their departure to Abu Dhabi, at Ben-Gurion Airport, August 31, 2020. (Heidi Levine/Pool via AP).

Greenway said Biden administration officials will also be present, but declined to identify them. He also indicated that invitations had been sent to representatives from other countries who have not yet forged diplomatic relations with Israel.

The AAPI executive director said his institute was leaving the advancement of the diplomatic aspects of the Abraham Accords to the current administration but said his organization would work to promote economic and cultural ties between the countries who have already signed agreements with Israel as well as other potential partners.

The confab will be AAPI’s first public event, and it will be followed by another gathering in October at the Dubai-hosted Expo 2020, Greenway said.

Another event will be held the day before in New York and is being co-organized by Erdan, who also serves as Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Joining him will be ambassadors to the UN from the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and the US.

US President Donald Trump talks on the phone with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, applaud in the Oval Office, October 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Despite diverging from Trump’s policies in almost all issues, senior Biden officials have repeatedly insisted that they support the normalization initiatives spearheads by the previous administration and seek to advance them as well.

“We’ve done an awful lot of work behind the scenes in building upon the breakthroughs,” one of them said in a background briefing last month. “Behind the scenes, there’s an awful lot of work going on to expand those arrangements to other countries.”

In the meantime though, Biden hasn’t appointed a specific envoy to spearhead the issue, as was the case under Trump.

Moreover, the current administration’s lack of enthusiasm regarding the sweetened deals the former president was willing to offer to potential Abraham Accords partners — like the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region, or billions in debt relief for Sudan — indicates that it won’t be willing to go as far as may be necessary to coax other reluctant Arab countries to normalize relations with the Jewish state.

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