JERUSALEM, Israel – White House adviser Jared Kushner visited Bahrain and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in a bid to convince Israel’s Arab neighbors to make peace with the Jewish State.
Kushner flew to the Gulf capitals after wrapping up historic talks with Israeli and Emirati leaders in Abu Dhabi centered on finalizing Israel’s US-brokered peace deal with the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain appeared to show hesitation about following the UAE in establishing diplomatic ties with Israel without an official Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Kushner met Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who “praised the steadfast, historic stances of the United Arab Emirates” in ensuring Palestinian rights, the state-run BNA news agency said. Kushner expressed optimism that other Arab countries will soon establish formal ties with Israel, even in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Bahrain’s King also said regional stability rests on Saudi Arabia, suggesting that his country will not make a deal with Israel until the Saudi kingdom acts first.
Kushner later met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, where they discussed “the prospects for the peace process in the region and the need to resume negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to achieve a just and lasting peace,” the state-run SPA said.
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Saudi Arabia spearheaded the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, a proposal for the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The initiative calls for normalizing relations between Israel and her Arab neighbors in exchange for Israel withdrawing its borders to the 1967 armistice lines and the resettlement of Palestinian refugees back to the land. Both of these conditions have historically been non-starters for Israel.
As Kushner’s meetings drew to a close, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a televised address blasting the UAE’s recognition of Israel as a “stain” on the country.
“The United Arab Emirates committed treachery against either the Islamic world or Arab nations and regional countries, as well as Palestine," Khamenei said. “The treason will not last for long.”
Palestinian leaders have also condemned the deal as a stab in the back by a major regional player.
Israel and UAE are both suspicious of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and an Emirati official denounced Khamenei’s comments.
“The path to peace and prosperity is not through incitement and hate speech,” Foreign Ministry official Jamal al-Musharakh said. “That kind of rhetoric is counterproductive to peace in the region.”
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