Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and U.S. Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, deliver statements before boarding Israeli flag carrier El Al plane to Bahrain, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 18, 2020. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool/Reuters)
MANAMA—President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy said on Sunday that Trump’s push for an Israeli-Arab rapprochement was gaining momentum and he hoped more accords would follow no matter which presidential nominee wins next month’s election.
Avi Berkowitz, who accompanied an Israeli delegation that visited Bahrain on Sunday, said the Abraham Accords had bipartisan support in the United States and were designed to bear long-term fruit by encouraging grassroots engagement between Israel and its new Arab partners.
“Peace is something everybody should celebrate and see as a positive thing for the world,” Berkowitz said in an interview. “It’s our sincere hope that, no matter who wins the election, the Abraham Accords will continue to grow.”
Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates in agreeing last month to normalise ties with Israel, angering the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) who had conditioned any such regional rapprochement on statehood, and Iran and Turkey.
The flight carrying the Israeli delegation flew over Saudi Arabia, an accommodation by the Gulf’s powerhouse, which has so far resisted U.S. appeals to normalize ties with Israel.
“The talks we have with them have been positive on several fronts. Ultimately it is a decision they must make,” Berkowitz said when asked about any Saudi plans to follow suit.
“We look to them for an understanding in the region of the temperature of how things are going on numerous fronts, we’ve had very good discussions with them but time will tell,” he added.
Berkowitz, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and other officials will travel on Monday to the UAE, where the accord with Israel has opened up bilateral commerce.
By Dan Williams