In the wake of the historic agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced by President Donald Trump on Aug. 13, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a diplomatic tour of the region this week in hopes of encouraging more countries to sign a peace deal with Israel.
Pompeo landed in Israel on Sunday and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi over three days. Speaking in Jerusalem on Monday, both Pompeo and Netanyahu said that they were hopeful that other Arab states would follow suit — in part to boost an alliance against their common enemy Iran.
Pompeo was met with disappointing news when he arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday. The Sudanese prime minister said he must reject normalizing ties with Israel, for now.
“The transitional phase in Sudan is led by a broad coalition with a specific agenda: to complete the transition process and achieve peace and stability in the country, leading to free elections,” Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok said in a statement. “The transitional government does not have a mandate beyond these tasks to decide on normalization with Israel. This matter will be decided upon after the duties of the transitional government are completed.”
Sudan and Israel have taken steps toward normalization, nevertheless, and Pompeo made history by taking the first direct flight between Tel Aviv and Sudan.
“Happy to announce that we are on the FIRST official NONSTOP flight from Israel to Sudan!” he wrote on Twitter.
In Bahrain, Pompeo met with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and then head to the UAE. They too were not ready for normalization. It appears that there has been a full-on blitz from the Palestinians and other enemies of the Jewish state to pressure the Arab countries that had signaled a readiness to deal with Israel. Two weeks people were speaking of as many as five more Muslim-majority nations making peace with Israel.
Yet still, Israel Hayom newspaper wrote just yesterday that Sudan will announce a peace deal with Israel in weeks.
Another milestone first-ever commercial flight will take place next week between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. The flight on Monday will carry an Israeli delegation led by head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat and an American delegation headed by Trump adviser Jared Kushner.
Israel is expecting an economic boom from its cooperation with the UAE.
“This is an historic agreement. It will bring engines for growth,” Netanyahu said. “It can help bring about an overall flourishing of the economy during the coronavirus period and I hope that additional countries in our region will join the circle of peace.”
Photo: US Secretary of State, from Jerusalem addresses the Republican National Committee, highlighting the fact that President Trump has made history in the Middle East by moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and brokering a peace deal between Israel and the UAE. (youtube)