After regional trips by PM and ministers Regev and Kara

Trump aide Greenblatt lauds ‘warmer’ ties between Israel and Gulf

Negotatiator tweets that recent signals from moderate Arab states regarding Israel are ‘good for all’

Israel's Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, center, visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi with UAE officials on October 29, 2018. (Courtesy Chen Kedem Maktoubi)
Israel's Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, center, visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi with UAE officials on October 29, 2018. (Courtesy Chen Kedem Maktoubi)

US President Donald Trump’s top assistant for international affairs Jason Greenblatt said Wednesday that he will be back in Israel later this week and noted approvingly that ties between the Jewish state and some Arab nations in the region were warming up, following a series of high profile visits by Israeli ministers to Gulf cities.

Normalizing ties with Israel — or recognizing it as a state — remains a controversial policy debate in the Arab world, which largely boycotts Israel.

“Looking forward to being back in Israel this week as part of our commitment to productive engagement,” tweeted Greenblatt, who is Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations.

“In the last few days we have seen our regional partners Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE make statements and/or gestures signaling warmer ties with Israel,” Greenblatt wrote. ” A more stable region leads to a stronger and more prosperous region. It is good for all.”

In this Thursday, June 21, 2018 photo, provided by Egypt’s state news agency, MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, meets with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, second left, and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt on the latest stop in a regional tour to discuss a blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, in Cairo, Egypt. (MENA via AP)

The White House announced Greenblatt’s trip last week. Greenblatt’s agenda is not yet clear, but he is likely to meet with Netanyahu, though not with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Relations between Washington and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the American embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Abbas and other PA leaders have since refused to meet with Trump officials, including US Vice President Mike Pence when he visited the region earlier this year.

On Saturday, Oman’s Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah told a security conference in Bahrain that Israel should be accepted in the region.

The comment followed a rare visit Friday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Oman, the first by an Israeli leader in over two decades, and a sign of warming ties between the Jewish state and the Sunni Arab world. Netanyahu announced Sunday that Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz will embark on a visit to Oman next week.

Also Sunday, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev was on hand to watch as Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won a gold medal at the International Judo Federation Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi. The next day, teammate Peter Paltchik won another gold, adding to three bronze medals the Israeli delegation brought home from the contest. Regev made an unprecedented visit to Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara gives a speech at the International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on October 30, 2018. (Stringer/AFP)

On Tuesday, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, a member of the ruling Likud party, attended a telecommunications conference in Dubai.

The mainly Sunni Gulf state sees Israel as an ally against Shiite power Iran.

Netanyahu has long sought a rapprochement with Arab states, citing in part concerns over their common enemy Iran. Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

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