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US will help Israel strike further normalisation pacts: Blinken

KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT - JULY 29: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint-press conference with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah (not seen) in Kuwait City on July 29, 2021. ( Jaber Abdulkhaleg - Anadolu Agency )
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kuwait City on 29 July 2021 [Jaber Abdulkhaleg/Anadolu Agency]

Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed today to help Israel normalize relations with additional countries in the Muslim and Arab worlds as he commemorated the one-year anniversary of former President Donald Trump's Abraham Accords.

Blinken said the Biden administration would "continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalisation marching forward," and would seek to foster "Israel's growing ties with Morocco, with Bahrain, with the United Arab Emirates, as well as with Sudan, which has also signed the Abraham Accords, and Kosovo, which established ties with Israel at the beginning of the year."

"We will encourage more countries to follow the lead of the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco," he said at a virtual ceremony with his counterparts from those countries and Israel. "We want to widen the circle of peaceful diplomacy, because it is in the interests of countries across the region, and around the world, for Israel to be treated like any other country."

Trump struck normalisation deals between Israel and several Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Morocco, in exchange for acquiescing to diplomatic and military requests from the Arab states. Sudan's agreement is still being finalised.

Prior to the Abraham Accords, the only Arab states to have ties with Israel were Egypt and Jordan.

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Palestinians have reacted strongly against the pacts, saying they feel betrayed by their Arab neighbours who previously held out on providing Tel Aviv with diplomatic recognition until Israel withdrew from the Occupied Territories, and an Israel-Palestinian peace deal was reached.

Blinken said the normalisation agreements must be used "to make tangible improvements in the lives of Palestinians, and to make progress toward the long-standing goal of advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he would be traveling Bahrain later this month for what will mark the first such visit by an Israel minister.

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