“The meeting is one in a series of steps from the Trump administration to facilitate closer ties between Israel and the Arab states.”
By World Israel News Staff
A secret trilateral meeting in December involving the U.S., Israel, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took place at the White House, with the aim of coordinating moves against Iran, according to Israeli and U.S. officials cited by Israel’s Channel 13 TV and Axios.
“The meeting, which took place on Dec. 17, is one in a series of steps from the Trump administration to facilitate closer ties between Israel and the Arab states. It included discussion of a UAE-Israel nonaggression pact — an interim step on the way to diplomatic normalization,” says the report.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, a central force in formulating the recently-announced U.S. ‘Deal of the Century’ for Israel and the Palestinians, has been a “key proponent” of advancing a regional dimension to the American peace plan, according to Ch.13/Axios.
The Israeli delegation to the secret talks was led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat.
The UAE was represented by its ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba, who is said to be a very close adviser to the UAE’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
The U.S. representation reportedly included national security adviser Robert O’Brien and his deputy, Victoria Coates, as well as Brian Hook, special envoy for Iran.
Amid efforts by Netanyahu to strengthen a “secret alliance” with the UAE against Iran, the report says, the breakthrough took place in February 2019 in Warsaw, during a U.S.-led anti-Iran conference attended by Israel and the Gulf states.
“After the Warsaw conference, the Trump administration decided to establish a trilateral forum — the U.S, Israel, and the UAE — to strengthen cooperation against Iran. At least three meetings took place in the last year. One of them was previously reported by the Wall Street Journal, says Ch.13/Axios.
“Netanyahu and the Trump administration want to move this process forward even more,” say the U.S. and Israeli sources cited in the report, adding that the two leaders are “pushing for nonaggression deals with the UAE and other Gulf states, along with direct flights and public trips by Israeli officials to the Gulf.”
The report includes a reaction from a senior U.S. official: “While the United States would certainly welcome expanding relationships between our critical allies and partners in the Middle East, we’re not going to detail private diplomatic conversations, nor do we have anything to announce.”
In July, Israel confirmed that Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz had visited the UAE and met with a senior Emirati official on the sidelines of a climate conference.
In March 2019, Emirati Minister of State Anwar Mohammed Gargash predicted a “significant shift” in Israel’s relations with the Arab world in the coming years.
According to Gargash, the longstanding boycott of the Jewish State maintained by most nations in the Arab world was a major misstep.