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Wall Street Journal: Gulf States Could Offer Upgrade in Israel Ties

2017-05-19 - 11:35 p

Bahrain Mirror: Israeli media reported that "a plan under discussion among Gulf state leaders would reportedly offer better ties with Israel".

According to The Wall Street Journal, the plan is linked to whether "the Jewish state were to take substantive action to try to reach peace with the Palestinians." Among the measures the states want to see are a settlement freeze in "certain areas" of the West Bank and an easing of the security blockade on the Gaza Strip, sources familiar with negotiations about the plan told The Wall Street Journal in a report Monday night.

In return, according to a piece published in "The Times of Israel", Gulf States would lift some trade restrictions, open direct telecommunications links, and allow Israeli aircraft to overfly their countries, the report said.

Other incentives under consideration are the issuing of visas to Israeli sports teams and trade delegations for events in Arab states and opening the region for Israeli trade and business.

Bahrain has already adopted practical advanced measures in building official ties with the Jewish state, as Manama hosted earlier this month May 2017, an official Israeli delegation representing the Israeli Football Federation. This came as Bahrain hosted the FIFA Congress, after Malaysia refused to host the event as Israel is a participant.

An investigation undergone by an independent organization in December 2016, said that the Bahraini authorities used an Israeli product bought from Israel's Cellebrite Mobile Synchronization Ltd. company, used to extract information from activists' mobile phones. The information was later used against the activists as convicting evidence.

In the same month, a delegation from Habad (Chabad-Lubavitch) Rabbis, an Orthodox Jewish Hasidic movement, visited Bahrain, to celebrate a menorah-lighting ceremony. Video clips shows an Israeli music band dancing in Bab Al-Bahrain in the capital Manama, to the beats of a song promising "to build the temple over the ruins of al-Aqsa Mosque".

According to the report, the idea is "outlined in an unreleased discussion paper shared among several Gulf countries."

Gulf States are aiming to cooperate with Trump, who has stated his keen interest in reaching a peace agreement, the sources told the Journal. Two countries - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - have reportedly already told the US and Israel they are prepared to embrace the plan, the report added.

The report said that the Israeli Prime Minister's Office would not comment on the offer.

"The initiative comes against a backdrop of improving relations between Israel and Sunni Gulf states in the past few years, driven by shared concerns about Shiite-ruled Iran and the Islamic State terror group," as reported by the Israeli website.

A senior Arab official taking part in the discussions was quoted as saying, "We no longer see Israel as an enemy, but a potential opportunity."

"Much more is going on now than any time in the past," Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Journal. "It's almost a revolution in the Middle East."

Steinitz, who last year made a secret visit to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi to discuss regional issues, said Israeli technology, including for surveillance, is being shared with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

"Israel has developed cutting-edge technology that allows us to detect terrorist plots in advance," he said. "This enables us to help moderate Arab governments protect themselves."

Chagai Tzuriel, director-general of Israel's Intelligence Ministry, said that a lot of progress is being made out of the public eye.

Arabic Version



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