Trump envoy: Our conversations with the Saudis have been positive

Trump's Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz says Trump's push for Israeli-Arab rapprochement is gaining momentum.

Elad Benari ,

Israeli-US delegation lands in Bahrain
Israeli-US delegation lands in Bahrain
Matty Stern / US Embassy in Jerusalem

Avi Berkowitz, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, said on Sunday the US President’s push for an Israeli-Arab rapprochement was gaining momentum and he hoped more accords would follow even if Trump loses next month’s election.

Berkowitz, who accompanied an Israeli delegation which visited Bahrain on Sunday, told the Reuters news agency that the “Abraham Accords” had bipartisan support in the United States and were designed to bear long-term fruit by encouraging grassroots engagement between Israel and its new Arab partners.

“Peace is something everybody should celebrate and see as a positive thing for the world. It’s our sincere hope that, no matter who wins the election, the Abraham Accords will continue to grow,” he said.

The flight carrying the Israeli delegation to Bahrain flew over Saudi Arabia which, despite allowing the flight to cross its airspace, has so far resisted U.S. appeals to normalize ties with Israel.

“That is a decision for them to ultimately come to, our conversations with them have been positive on numerous fronts,” Berkowitz said when asked about any Saudi plans to follow suit.

“We look to them for an understanding in the region of the temperature of how things are going on numerous fronts, we’ve had very good discussions with them but time will tell,” he added.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week met Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and encouraged Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel.

Pompeo said the agreement with the UAE and Bahrain "contributed greatly to our shared goals for regional peace and security."

"We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well. We want to thank them for the assistance they've had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far," he added.

While Saudi Arabia has not reached any normalization agreement with Israel, recent reports indicated that the Kingdom was working behind the scenes and urged the UAE and Bahrain to reach their respective deals with the Jewish state.

On Thursday, Prince Faisal appeared to pour cold water on the prospects of Saudi-Israeli normalization taking place any time soon.

“I believe that the focus now needs to be on getting the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the negotiating table. In the end, the only thing that can deliver lasting peace and lasting stability is an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” the Saudi minister said in a virtual appearance at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank.