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Israel-UAE deal: US planning Middle East peace conference in coming weeks - Reports

UAE diplomat told an Israeli newspaper that US Secretary of State Pompeo’s tour to the Middle East and Africa was preliminary preparation for the summit
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a joint statement to the press with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, on 24 August 2020 (AFP)

Washington is planning a Middle East peace summit in the coming weeks, in the wake of the normalisation deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, an Emirati official told an Israel newspaper on Monday. 

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The unnamed diplomat told Israel Hayom that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the Middle East and Africa is part of Washington’s effort to prepare the foundation for the peace conference.

Pompeo kicked off his Middle East tour in Jerusalem on Monday, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before taking the first official direct flight from Tel Aviv to the Sudanese capital Khartoum. The tour will also include the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The visit to Sudan was seen as part of US efforts to persuade more Arab countries to follow the United Arab Emirates in normalising ties with Tel Aviv. 

Abu Dhabi announced on 13 August that it had reached an unprecedented normalisation agreement with Israel, brokered by Washington, and denounced by Palestinians from across the political spectrum.

According to Israel Hayom, sources familiar with the matter said that the peace conference was set to take place in a Gulf country, but did not specify which one.

Besides the UAE, Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries who have signed peace agreements with Israel.

The sources also said that Washington was trying to ensure the participation of of Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Sudan and Chad, alongside Israel and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan had yet to confirm their participation in the summit, they added.

On Monday, Morocco's Prime Minister Saad-Eddine el-Othmani said that his government rejected normalisation with Israel, which would amount to encouraging Tel Aviv to increase its violations against Palestinians.

The Emirati official claimed that Pompeo had sent a message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he was willing to visit him in Ramallah and invite him to the conference, but that the Palestinian leader had dismissed the offer.