Israel's normalisation deals with Arab states

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid's visit to Morocco Wednesday is the first by a top official from Israel since Rabat became the fourth Arab nation to normalise ties with the Jewish state last year.

Here is a recap of Israel's US-brokered rapprochement with the Arab world.

- 'Huge breakthrough' -

In a surprise announcement on August 13, 2020, then US president Donald Trump says Israel and the United Arab Emirates have reached an agreement to normalise relations.

In a tweet he hails a "HUGE breakthrough" and a "Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends".

Israel's then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the agreement means "a new era began in the relations between Israel and the Arab world".

Egypt and Jordan had previously led the way in recognising Israel, in bilateral peace deals struck decades ago.

The UAE said that under the deal Israel agreed to "suspend" annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, but Netanyahu said it had simply been put off.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas calls the deal a "betrayal" of their cause, including the Palestinians' claim to east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

- 'Stab in the back' -

On September 11, Trump announces that Bahrain and Israel will likewise normalise ties.

Four days later, the UAE and Bahrain sign the Abraham Accords with Israel at the White House.

The Palestinians condemn the agreements as a "stab in the back".

Weeks later, Israel approves plans for 4,948 more settler homes in the West Bank.

- Sudan too -

On October 23, Trump announces plans for Sudan to normalise ties with Israel in principle as his administration agrees to remove Khartoum from Washington's state sponsors of terror blacklist.

Trump says that "at least five more" Arab countries want to normalise relations with Israel.

- Secret Saudi visit? -

Reports on November 23 that Netanyahu made a secret visit to Saudi Arabia also spark a flurry of speculation.

The kingdom denies that a meeting took place with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A peace deal with Riyadh, which has said it would stick to the decades-old Arab League position of not establishing ties with Israel until its conflict with the Palestinians is resolved, would be a massive diplomatic prize for the Jewish state.

- Morocco breakthrough -

Morocco normalises ties with Israel on December 10 in a diplomatic quid pro quo that sees Washington back Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region.

Unlike the other countries, Rabat had previously maintained formal contact with Israel, but closed a liaison office in Tel Aviv in 2000 at the start of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

- Khartoum pens deal -

Sudan's transitional government signs the "Abraham Accords" on January 6, 2021 agreeing to normalise ties with Israel and simultaneously obtains financial aid from the US.

The agreement still needs to be ratified by the legislature before it comes into effect.

- Israel's Gulf embassy -

The UAE announces on March 11 the creation of a $10-billion (around 8.3-billion euro) investment fund for strategic sectors in Israel.

At the end of May, the two countries sign a tax treaty aimed at stimulating investment.

The first Israeli embassy in the Gulf is inaugurated in the UAE on June 29 by Yair Lapid.

On July 14, the Emirates open their first embassy in Tel Aviv.