In the last year, relations between Israel and the Gulf states have grown warmer and deeper.
Why it’s happening: Much of it has to do with the alignment in interests over the Iranian threat, but the Trump administration’s efforts to promote a Middle East peace deal and get the Sunni states and Israel to work together have also been a factor.
- President Trump’s “peace team” led by senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt decided from day one to build close relationships with several Arab leaders, such as Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, as part of its efforts to promote a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
- Kushner wanted to use the help of those Arab leaders to encourage Palestinian leadership to be more flexible in peace talks with Israel. It hasn’t worked on the Israeli-Palestinian front, but did bear fruit on the Israel-Arab front.
- Kushner was able to use his relationship with the King of Jordan to help prevent a crisis over the Israeli embassy in Amman from getting out of control in July last year.
- Kushner’s many hours of talks with The Saudi crown prince influenced some of MBS’s thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and led to more positive rhetoric about Israel. Two examples are MBS’ interview with the Atlantic, where he recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace, and his criticism of Palestinian leadership for refusing to negotiate.
- The White House “Peace team” managed to get Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain to send representatives to the special meeting on the Gaza crisis in Mid-March. The Arab representatives set around the same table with the Israeli general in charge of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Click here to read more.