Arab Gulf states reportedly offer steps toward normalization with Israel for peace gestures


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Arab Gulf states reportedly have offered to begin normalizing relations with Israel if Israel makes gestures toward peace with the Palestinians.

The offer reported Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal comes as President Donald Trump readies for a visit to the region. The newspaper cited several unnamed people said to be briefed on the discussion.

According to the report, the Arab states offered such normalization steps as establishing direct telecommunications links with Israel, allowing overflight rights to Israeli aircraft and lifting restrictions on some trade. In exchange, the Arab states expect Israeli to make a grand gesture toward restarting the peace process, such as stopping construction in areas of the West Bank or opening the border with Gaza to more products.

The proposal has been outlined in a discussion paper shared among several Gulf countries, according to the report. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have signed on to the idea, and informed the United States and Israel of their willingness to do so, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Netanyahu’s office did not respond to a request for a comment from the newspaper.

Israel and the Gulf states have improved relations in recent years over mutual worry about Iran and the Islamic State.

“We no longer see Israel as an enemy, but a potential opportunity,” a senior Arab official involved in the discussions told The Wall Street Journal.

Arab officials reportedly said they understand that an official peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not come to fruition in the near future, but that Israel has to show good faith to reap the benefits of normalization.