US seeking normalisation deal between Qatar, Israel: State Dept official

Bassem Aly , Friday 18 Sep 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump meets Qatar
U.S. President Donald Trump meets Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS

US Deputy Secretary of State Tim Lenderking told reporters on Thursday that Washington seeks to normalise relations between Qatar and Israel

“Qatar has a track record of working with Israel that we think will eventually get them to a broader agreement with the Israelis,” Bloomberg quoted Lenderking as saying to reporters in a call.

“We think there’s a lot to build on, every country will move at its own pace on normalisation, according to its own criteria, but we’re eager for that to happen sooner rather than later.”

Lenderking added that the US is “still very dedicated” to resolving the rift between Qatar and other Arab states, which has been in place for three years, noting that Washington is “in contact with all of the parties.”

“If it’s possible for countries to normalise with Israel, it ought to be possible for Arab countries to normalise amongst each other,” he said, stating that the US is “very keen to see that the airspace is opened for aircraft not to have to fly over Iran.”

However, he said that it “may not be a matter of weeks.”

In June 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and most trade and transport link with Qatar, accusing the state of supporting terrorism

On Wednesday, Qatar’s ambassador to Washington told Voice of America (VOA) that Doha does not oppose normalising ties with Israel if “the conditions are proper,” including implementing the two-state solution.

“Qatar is part of the Arab Peace Initiative. We believe in a two-state solution for the Palestinians and in securing Israel’s borders, and if these conditions are fulfilled, then we don’t see any reason for Qatar to not normalise relations with Israel,” said Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani.

On Tuesday, the UAE and Bahrain officially signed US-sponsored normalisation agreements with Israel in Washington.

The so-called Abraham Accords between the UAE and Israel involves the “establishment of peace and diplomatic relations,” and “mutual understanding, cooperation and coordination between them in the spheres of peace and stability.”

Cooperation will include the fields of health care, science, technology and peaceful uses of outer space, tourism, culture and sport, energy, environment, education, maritime agreements, telecommunications, agriculture and food security, and water and legal cooperation.

President Donald Trump described the deals as “the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”

Including Saudi Arabia, Trump told reporters that Israel will also normalise relations with “seven or eight or nine” other states “at the right time.” 

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