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US engineering meeting between Israel, Saudi and Gulf states: Report

Washington is hoping to hold a summit in Cairo by early March, which would be attended by leaders from Israel, Saudi, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Sudan, Israel Hayom reports
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP/file photo)

The United States is attempting to convene a summit in the Egyptian capital by early March that would host a historic meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom reported.

Arab diplomats told Israel Hayom that "intensive" talks were taking place among the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia after almost a year of mediation by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"In recent days there have been very intensive discussions between Washington, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to arrange a summit meeting in Cairo as early as the coming weeks, even before the election in Israel," a senior Arab diplomatic source told the newspaper. 

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Israel is scheduled to hold a general election on 3 March, its third vote in less than a year.

Diplomats said that aside from Egypt, where the summit is expected to be held, the event would also be attended by the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain and Oman.

According to other Arab sources, Jordan also received an invitation to the summit and was engaged in talks with various Arab states to convey its position on the matter, Israel Hayom reported.

According to a senior official in Amman, Jordan's King Abdullah wants Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to receive an invitation to the summit. 

A senior official in the Palestinian Authority (PA) said that for the time being, "Abbas and the leadership in Ramallah would adhere to their boycott of Washington and to freezing diplomatic ties with Israel." 

According to the official, Washington told the PA that "this would likely be Abbas' and the Palestinians' last chance to climb down from the tree and partake in the diplomatic developments unfolding in the region".

'No sympathy with the Palestinian cause'

In recent years, Saudi Arabia and several Gulf Arab states have increased their engagement with Israel, raising concerns that they are seeking to normalise ties and sideline the Palestinian struggle for statehood.

As Middle East Eye has previously pointed out, plans have been underway since 2018 to present MBS as a peacemaker in the mould of the former Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat.

A source told MEE at the time that the Saudi crown prince was "keen" to take on the role.

"He comes from a new generation and does not feel the weight of history on his shoulders. He has shown this repeatedly. He has no particular sympathy with the Palestinian cause," the source said.

Last week, when the Trump administration unveiled its controversial "deal of the century," Saudi Arabia was one of the main supporters of the plan.

The proposal made numerous concessions to Israel, allowing Israel to annex illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including the strategic Jordan Valley, referred to Jerusalem as Israel's capital and denied Palestinians the right to return to their ancestral homes in Israel.

Since its unveiling, the document has been rejected by the Palestinians, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries (OIC).