Pompeo presses for more Arab-Israeli diplomatic ties – World – Chinadaily.com.cn

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make joint statements during a news conference after a meeting in Jerusalem, Aug 24, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s ongoing visit to the Middle East is believed to be aimed at pushing more Arab nations to establish diplomatic relations with Israel and boost regional efforts against Iran.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Pompeo said: “It is inevitable that all countries across the Middle East, and one day even Iran, will come around to the understanding that it is in their interest to normalize ties with the state of Israel.”

The visit took place following the recent announcement of a normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

On Monday, Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a joint statement in Jerusalem, the first stop on the US official’s five-day Middle East tour, which includes Bahrain and UAE. He is also visiting Sudan.

Netanyahu called the agreement “a boon to peace and regional stability” that “heralds a new era where we could have other nations join”. Pompeo said the United States was committed to maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” and would be reviewing arms deals with the UAE.

Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, will meet with US President Donald Trump to sign the treaty, possibly in the coming weeks.

The agreement is said to mark a key foreign policy victory for Trump, as he seeks reelection. The deal makes the UAE only the third nation in the Arab world, along with Egypt and Jordan, to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the deal a “betrayal” of Palestinians. The Israel-UAE deal is seen as breaking a tradition among most Arab countries not to make peace with Israel until Israelis and the Palestinians make peace, Voice of America said.

On Tuesday, Pompeo headed to Sudan where he met with officials from the new government. He said the US was working to move Sudan into the West’s orbit and away from Iran.

Abdalla Hamdok became prime minister last August after the military ousted president Omar al-Bashir following months of protests against his 30-year rule.

Sudan is vying to be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, and normalizing ties with Israel could bring Sudan closer to that, German media outlet Deutsche Welle said.

Dan Haverty, an editorial fellow at US magazine Foreign Policy, wrote that Pompeo’s Middle East tour is to boost the Trump administration’s recent raft of diplomatic activity aimed at deterring Iran.

“The deal has formalized a longstanding trend as an increasing number of Arab states shift their geopolitical priorities away from confrontation with Israel toward cooperation against Iran,” Haverty said.

“Brokered by the United States, the deal also reflects Washington’s wider efforts to coordinate a multilateral bulwark against Iran.”

On Sunday, Jared Kushner, White House senior adviser, told CNN that the deal could increase the chances of a US sale of F-35 fighter jets to the Emirates, ostensibly to bolster the country’s military capabilities against Iran. The sale of the jets is “something that the State Department and the US military is looking at”, Kushner said.

Netanyahu has stated that he is against any such deal, which could reduce Israel’s military advantage in the region.

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