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Gulf states 'offer Israel normalised ties for peace concessions'

The 28th Arab League summit in Jordan on March 29, 2017. [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2017

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Gulf States reportedly have made an unprecedented offer to normalise ties with Israel, proposing a series of economic and political gestures in return for concessions in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Gulf States have made an unprecedented offer to normalise ties with Israel, proposing a series of economic and political gestures in return for concessions in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The initiative is being led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and some of the proposed measures include a freeze on Israeli settlement building and easing the 10-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Wall Street Journal
reported.

In return, Gulf states would open direct telecommunications links with Israel, allow Israeli aircraft to use their airspace, and lift trade restrictions.

There was also the possibility of issuing visas to Israeli trade delegations and sports teams for events in Gulf states, the report added.

"We no longer see Israel as an enemy, but a potential opportunity," a senior Arab official involved in the discussions was quoted as saying.

The normalisation measures were part of an unreleased discussion paper shared among Gulf states, according to the WSJ.

There has been no official denial or confirmation of the report yet.

In recent years, relations between Israel and the Gulf States have significantly improved, above all in intelligence sharing, largely due to their shared fears about Iran's regional ambitions.

The proposal is similar in tone to the landmark Saudi-brokered Arab Peace Initiative in 2002, which offered fully normalised ties between the Arab region and Israel in exchange for a full withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and a just settlement to the refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194.

Endorsed by leaders at the Arab League summit in Beirut, the 2002 proposal offered recognition of Israel's right to exist and the normalisation of diplomatic ties.

Then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promptly rejected the initiative, and it has lay dormant ever since.

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