Aug 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kushner plans trip to Middle East to encourage more Gulf states to normalize with Israel

Jared Kushner

Jared Kushner. Photo: Getty Images

President Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner and White House envoy Avi Berkowitz are expected to travel to the Middle East and visit Israel along with several Gulf states during the first week of September to check on the U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Israeli and Arab officials tell me.

The state of play: Kushner and his delegation are expected to congratulate leadership in Israel and the UAE on the normalization deal and get updates on progress of the talks between the countries regarding possible agreements they may want to sign.

  • Kushner will also use his talks with leaders in the region to encourage more Arab countries to follow in the UAE's footsteps and move forward with full normalization of relations with Israel, officials briefed on the planned visit tell me. 

National security adviser Robert O'Brien and the State Department's special envoy for Iran Brian Hook are also expected to join Kushner on the trip.

  • Other than a visit to Jerusalem, Kushner and Berkowitz will visit the UAE. The U.S. delegation is likely to visit Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman as well.

What they're saying: President Trump said several days ago that he hopes Saudi Arabia will also move toward normalization with Israel. U.S. officials think it might be possible for Bahrain and Oman to take such steps in the weeks and months ahead.

  • The White House declined to comment.

What's next: Trump wants to a have a signing ceremony at the Rose Garden in September for the Israel-UAE deal with leaders from both countries.

Even if other Gulf states don't announce normalization with Israel until then, the White House may invite representatives from other Arab states to attend the ceremony and show their support for the deal.

Israeli and Arab officials tell me the drafting of agreements in different fields between Israel and the UAE will take more time.

  • Both countries have put together interagency teams to start the internal work of preparing a range of agreements. Israeli officials believe a meeting between the teams will not take place before the first week of September.
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