American Middle East policy experts believe that US President Donald Trump is seeking to bring Sunni Arab states, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, into his emerging framework for a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, according to a report by the New York Times.
According to the report, Trump’s approach dovetails with that of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who believes a regional framework for peace may succeed in light of the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to engage in bilateral negotiations without preconditions.
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu are scheduled to meet for the first time since Trump took office next week.
However, the report also states that Trump has listened to requests from the leaders of the Sunni states not to engage in pro-Israel moves which could “make life harder” for them, such as moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“There are some quite interesting ideas circulating on the potential for U.S.-Israeli-Arab discussions on regional security in which Israeli-Palestinian issues would play a significant role,” said Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “I don’t know if this is going to ripen by next week, but this stuff is out there.”
Netanyahu believes that Israel’s closer relations with the Sunni states in recent years in light of the threats posed by the Ayatollah’s regime in Iran and the ISIS terrorist organization, those states would be more willing to contribute to a regional peace settlement than in the past.
“The logic of outside-in is that because the Palestinians are so weak and divided — and because there’s a new, tacit relationship between the Sunni Arabs and Israel — there’s the hope the Arabs would be prepared to do more,” said former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis B. Ross.
The underlying assumption of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was that peace between Israel and the PA would lead to peace between Israel and the wider Arab and Muslim worlds. The proposed new approach with reverse that assumption and instead seek to leverage Israel’s improving relationship with Sunni Muslim states to achieve peace between Israel and the PA.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom Trump appointed as Special Envoy to the Middle East, is said to be intrigued by the idea of substituting a regional framework for bilateral negotiations.