Oct 12, 2020 - World

Israeli Cabinet approves UAE peace treaty

Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

The Israeli Cabinet unanimously approved on Monday the U.S.-brokered peace treaty with the United Arab Emirates, signed at the White House last month, and decided to bring it to a vote in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, later this week.

Why it matters: The Israeli government wants Thursday's vote to grant the treaty the same status as similar agreements with Egypt and Jordan — and to make it clear it has broad support in parliament, which represents the Israeli people.

The state of play: Over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the UAE's de facto ruler, to update him on the coming votes.

  • It was the first public phone call between the two leaders since the trilateral phone call with President Trump on Aug. 13 — after which the normalization deal was announced.
  • On Sunday, President Trump also spoke with MBZ. The White House said Trump asked him to seize this opportunity to urge other Middle East leaders to follow the same path toward advancing peace and prosperity in the region.

What they're saying: Netanyahu said at the Cabinet meeting that he and MBZ agreed to meet soon, with invitations to visit their respective countries. However, the Emirati statement didn't mention a possible meeting between the leaders.

  • Netanyahu added that more Arab countries want to make peace with Israel because they see how it confronts Iran and understand that Israel can be an essential ally.
  • "I have no doubt we will see agreements with more Arab and Muslim countries soon," Netanyahu stressed.

What’s next: The next 10 days are going to be full of Israel-U.S.-Gulf diplomacy.

A senior U.S.-Israeli delegation is expected to travel early next week to Bahrain on a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Manama, Israeli officials tell me.

  • The trip will be in the same model of the U.S.-Israeli delegation that visited Abu Dhabi a month ago. Israeli officials tell me the Bahraini government asked to receive the same delegation as the UAE.
  • Israeli officials tell me Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could lead the delegation along with White House envoy Avi Berkowitz and other officials, though U.S. officials told me that group is possible but not yet confirmed.
  • The Israeli delegation will include senior officials from different ministries who will launch negotiations with their Bahraini counterparts on a set of bilateral agreements on trade, visas, the opening of embassies, direct flights and more. Israeli officials tell me the trip's aim is to push ahead with those agreements and the drafting of an Israel-Bahrain peace treaty.

The U.S.-Israeli delegation will return from Manama to Jerusalem and receive a senior delegation from the UAE that is expected to arrive in Israel on Oct. 20, Israeli officials say. It will include finance and economy ministers as well as other senior officials.

  • The aim of the visit is to continue drafting bilateral side agreements on visas, the opening of embassies, trade and investments, civil aviation, and tourism.
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