Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, speaks during a press conference at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Hall at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on Thursday, August 13, 2020.
Oliver Contreras | Sipa | Bloomberg through Getty Images
An agreement between Israel and the UAE to normalize diplomatic ties should be celebrated as a “historic step”;, despite the lack of support from Saudi Arabia, according to former White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Under the announced deal Thursday, which the U.S. helped mediate, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex some occupied West Bank areas. It also strengthens opposition to Iran, a regional power in the Middle East that the US, Israel and the UAE all see as the main threat to stability.
Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the US and an extremely influential power when it comes to regional policy towards Israel, has remained calm in the news about the deal.
“I think we have other countries that are very interested in moving forward,” Kushner told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in an exclusive interview Friday, referring to diplomatic ties with Israel.
“And then, as this progresses, I think it is inevitable that Saudi Arabia and Israel will have fully normalized relations and they will be able to do a lot of great things together,” he added.
When he suppressed Saudi Arabia’s silence after the announcement of the deal, Kouchner replied: “We have only had the first peace deal in 26 years and now you are saying, ‘Well, we want to get someone else right away.’ In 1994, Israel and Jordan agreed to a peace agreement.
“Saudi Arabia has undoubtedly been an excellent leader in doing (modernization) but you can not turn an overnight battle into war,” he added.
The agreement makes the UAE the first Persian Gulf state to normalize ties with Israel, and only the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have open diplomatic ties with that country.
On Thursday, Trump described the deal as a “major breakthrough” between the two “excellent friends” of the United States, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the move could pave the way for other Arab countries to join the deal. .
UAE Secretary of State Anwar Gargash told CNBC’s Dan Murphy on Thursday that the peace deal was a “winning” solution.
The European Union also welcomed the move, saying it was likely to help promote stability in the region.
However, the deal has been denounced by officials in Palestine, Iran and Turkey. The Palestinian ambassador to the UAE was remembered shortly after the announcement.
Kouchner told a news conference Thursday that Palestine’s condemnation of the peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was “quite predictable.”
Palestine has repeatedly urged Arab leaders not to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel until a peace deal is secured to establish an independent Palestinian state.
The peace agreement “does not change” the dynamics of the elections
For some, the deal is seen as a foreign policy victory for Trump, who is lagging behind in opinion polls against alleged Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ahead of the November election.
Trump has made peace in the Middle East an element of signing his first term, even though his administration had made little substantial progress.
“I think what we have done is that we have set the stage for a lot of progress in the region by looking at it based on common sense, pragmatism and common interests and a common vision for a better future,” Kushner said. Friday .
“We have taken some of the old tumors that have infected the region and we have reduced them in recent years,” he added, saying “everything we have done has been reasonable.”
Ayham Kamel, head of the Eurasia Group’s Middle East and North Africa practice, said in a note: “For Trump, the deal goes directly under Joe Biden. The president will trumpet that he made the diplomatic breakthrough that the Obama administration has achieved. “Biden can not.”
“The (agreement) announcement does not change our views on the dynamics of the election, which will be dominated by the economy and the coronavirus. The announcement will tease the evangelical Christian community at the Trump base, but it certainly would not have a major energetic effect. in general, ”Kamel added.
Biden praised the agreement between Israel and the UAE without mentioning Trump administration officials.
“The meeting of Israel and the Arab states is based on the efforts of multiple administrations to promote a wider Arab-Israeli opening, including the Obama-Biden administration’s efforts to build the Arab Peace Initiative,” he said in a statement.
– Natasha Turak and Tucker Higgins of CNBC contributed to this report.