High hopes of Arab summit OK for Israel peace step
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
If the Arab summit opening in Amman Wednesday, March 9 meets the expectations of Washington and Jerusalem, the session will ratify a pivotal initiative for promoting an historic peace process between the Arab world and Israel. This effort, which matured through five months of mostly secret diplomacy, was launched by Donald Trump in November, shortly after he was elected US President.
The official Arab summit agenda covers the disastrous war crises preying on the Arab world in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, as well as economic issues. But the rulers will also quietly discuss off-stage a proposal brought by Saudi King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi to embark on steps destined to lead to peaceful relations between the moderate Arab regimes and Israel and exponentially to a resolution of the Israeli-P\alestinian conflict.
DEBKAfile’s sources in Washington and Jerusalem report exclusively that President Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman crafted this proposal at the White House on March 14, during the prince’s trip to Washington. It was the high point of their talks, although they also aired and reached agreement on the war crises in Syria and Yemen, as well as America’s next steps against Iran on both those fronts and in the Gulf region.
President Trump arranged a dinner in honor of the Saudi king’s son that was attended by Vice President Mike Pence, the White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the president’s strategic adviser Steve Bannon and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
Some of the steps decided on during Prince Mohammed’s visit have since gone into effect, with the arrival of US military forces in Syria and the Yemeni arena.
In the course of their conversation, Prince Mohammed informed Trump that his father, King Salman, had agreed on the need for the first time to amend the original 2002 Saudi peace proposal which the Arab summit ratified unchanged in 2007.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has often said he would accept the Saudi peace plan with updated amendments. Prince Muhammad added that the United Arab Emirates de facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and the Egyptian president had responded affirmatively to the king’s request to underwrite the proposal.
The text they agreed at this White House encounter calls for three steps to be launched without delay for promoting progress towards a historic accommodation between the Arab world and the Jewish state.
Those steps are revealed for the first time in an exclusive report appearing in the next DEBKA Weekly issue (for subscribers) out this coming Friday, March 31. If you are not yet a subscriber to this premium publication, you may click here to sign on.
DEBKAfile also discloses here that the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas furiously rejected the Saudi peace initiative when it was presented to him in Cairo by President El-Sisi in Cairo on March 20.
In Jerusalem, our sources add that the prime minister is allowing a coalition crisis threatening his government to linger unresolved until he learns whether the Arab summit has confirmed the Saudi-Egyptian-UAE initiative in the face of predictable opposition. With this epic success in hand, Netanyahu expects his government to sail through the fracas to safety.