US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L), Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. (Bahrain News Agency via AP) (Bahrain News Agency via AP)
Bahrain Mideast US Peace Plan

Israel Katz announced “a groundbreaking diplomatic plan” for the signing of a historic non-aggression pact with the Arab Gulf states.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Israel is in the process of working on a non-aggression pact with several Arab states in the Middle East to face the common threat emanating from Iran, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz revealed Saturday night.

Following a news item on the development, Katz announced “a groundbreaking diplomatic plan,” which he has “been promoting in recent months, backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

“The idea is to take advantage of the historic opportunity of a joint confrontation with Iran’s threats to advance interim agreements to end the state of war, and to advance the civil relationship between Israel and the rich Gulf states – until full peace agreements are signed in the future,” he explained.

As part of this process, he met at the United Nations (UN) late last month at the sidelines of the General Assembly with foreign ministers of Arab countries and the US’ special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and presented the plan to them.

“I will continue to do everything possible to advance the ‘Peace from Power’ policy and to strengthen the State of Israel in the region and around the world,” he stated.

Israel’s ties with several Arab countries have significantly advanced in recent years, openly and covertly, as shared strategic interests, and primarily confronting Iran’s advent in the region, have brought both sides to the same table.

‘A Historic Opportunity’

Katz stated last month that he was under the impression that there “is a historic opportunity to develop relations with them [Arab countries]. This is because of the shared view of the threats and the recognition of Israel’s assets, in intelligence and security and civilian areas alike.”

Israel received surprising support for its retaliatory strikes in Lebanon after the Hezbollah terror organization attacked IDF targets at the end of August from Bahrain’s foreign minister, who said that Lebanon was to blame for the situation.

“The aggression of one state against another is prohibited by international law. A state standing by, watching battles taking place on its borders and putting its people in danger is a state that greatly neglects its responsibilities,” Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa tweeted.

Katz met publicly with al-Khalifa at the State Department in Washington in July.

“Another example of our growing diplomatic connections,” Katz said. “I will continue to work with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to advance Israel’s relations with the Gulf countries.”

Al Khalifa, in his first-ever interview with the Israeli media in June, stated that “Israel is a country of the Middle East. Israel is part of the heritage of this whole region. The Jewish People have a place amongst us. The Israeli public needs to trust that there are countries in the region that do want to have peace and do encourage the Palestinians to do it.”

Katz in July attended a UN’s Climate Summit in Abu Dhabi, during which he met a high-ranking United Arab Emirates (UAE) official. This was the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the Arab country.

He visited Oman in November 2018, and his trip came two weeks after Netanyahu visited the country and met with its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. It was the first trip made by an Israeli prime minister since Shimon Peres in 1996.

Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara visited the UAE in October 2018.

After his visit to Oman, Katz stated that visits by Israeli officials to Arab countries “are part of a wider trend of strengthening ties between Israel and the Gulf countries based on common interests and a mutual recognition of the potential benefits for both sides, both in terms of contending with common challenges and threats, as well as opportunities.”

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