A senior US official hinted on Wednesday that more Arab nations are looking to make gestures to improve relations with Israel when President Joe Biden visits the region next month, AFP reported.
Barbara Leaf, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, said that the Biden administration was encouraging greater cooperation between Israel and the Arab nations with which it has relations.
"We are working, in the space that is not in the public domain, with a couple of other countries. And I think you'll see some interesting things around the time of the president's visit," she told a congressional subcommittee.
Asked to elaborate, Leaf said, "I really wouldn't want to step on the president's toes."
The White House announced last week that Biden will arrive in Israel on July 13 for his first official visit to the Jewish State since taking office nearly a year and a half ago.
Biden will also visit the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia during his trip to the Middle East, which will last from July 13-16.
The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco in 2020 became the first Arab states in decades to normalize relations with Israel as part of the so-called Abraham Accords which were brokered by former President Donald Trump.
Leaf said in her remarks on Wednesday that the UAE-Israel relationship "is going like gangbusters" but that the Biden administration also wanted to encourage broader cooperation.
She added that the United States wanted the Negev Summit, which took place in March and attended by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and their counterparts from the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Egypt, to be an annual event and to include the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.
The meetings aim to deepen cooperation on areas including water, tourism, health and food security, Leaf said.
While the Abraham Accords were an initiative of former US President Donald Trump, they have been backed by the Biden administration as well.
Blinken said shortly after he took office that the Biden administration supports the Abraham Accords.
The Biden administration has expressed hope that the Abraham Accords could be used to reboot talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Leaf’s comments came amid reports that the White House has been working on a “road map for normalization” between Israel and Saudi Arabia ahead of Biden’s visit.
Israel has been for years rumored to have behind-the-scenes ties with Saudi Arabia, but the Saudis have vehemently denied those rumors.
Saudi Arabian officials have repeatedly said that a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital is a prerequisite for Saudi Arabia normalizing ties with Israel.