23 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

After meeting with Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the son of Kuwait’s ruling emir, on Friday, President Trump announced at a media conference that Kuwait may be the next country to sign a normalization agreement with Israel.

“[The Kuwaitis] are so excited that we signed the first two countries and I think they’ll end up fairly quickly being a part of it,” Trump said, referring to the recent signing of the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. 

At the signing of the accords last week, President Trump said that “seven or eight countries” were currently in negotiations to sign similar agreements with Israel.

If the president’s prediction comes true, the resulting agreement will be a powerful testimony to his peace-making abilities. Last month,  the Kuwaiti al-Qabas newspaper cited unnamed senior officials as stating, “Our stance on Israel has not changed, following the UAE normalization agreement, and we will be the last to normalize relations.” 

“The Kuwaiti position is consistent with its decades-old foreign policy approach in support of the Palestinian cause, as it is the premier Arab issue,” the officials said, according to a translation published by Reuters, adding that only “what the Palestinians accept” would be acceptable to Kuwait.

It should be noted that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were mentioned in the Abraham Accords but there was no mention of the creation of a Palestinian state or of limiting Israeli claims to Judea and Samaria.

Though Bahrain and the UAE are, like Kuwait, Muslim Arab nations, Kuwait military forces, unlike those of Bahrain and the UAE, participated against the State of Israel in Arab military actions. The nations of Israel and Kuwait do not have diplomatic relations and Kuwait boycotts Israeli products.

In addition to the agreements made to date, US, Emirati and Sudanese officials will hold a meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday at which normalization between Israel and Sudan will be discussed. The meeting comes as a result of the issue being raised last Tuesday in a meeting in Washington between Netanyahu and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Officially, Israel and Muslim-majority Sudan do not have bilateral relations, but some sources have claimed they maintain covert ties. Sudan officially went to war with Israel in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the Six-Day War in 1967.

According to reports, Sudan is seeking economic aid from the US and the UAE in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel. Sudan is seeking food shipments worth $1.2 billion, a $2 billion grant or a 25-year loan to the government, and a commitment cov ering the next three years from the UAE and the US to provide economic aid. In addition to economic aid, the Sudanese government wants the Trump administration to remove Sudan from the State Department’s state sponsors of terrorism list. 

For all this to happen, the Sudanese government needs to pay $300 million as compensation to the families of US citizens killed in terror attacks against US embassies in Africa in 1998 and against the USS Cole in 2000.

In an interview with VOA on Wednesday, Qatar’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani said that Qatar has no objection to normalizing ties with Israel if “the conditions are proper.”

“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 normalize relations with Israel,” said Al-Thani.

Qatar established trade relations with the State of Israel in 1996 making it the first Gulf State to do so. This was despite accusations that Qatar allows terror financiers to operate within its borders. There are also allegatioins that Qatar provides clandestine support for ISIS and Hamas.