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US Congress forms caucus to promote more normalisation with Israel

The congressional caucus is being backed by the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, a think tank founded by Jared Kushner
US Senator James Lankford listens during a news conference on 7 December 2021 in Washington.
US Senator James Lankford listens during a news conference on 7 December 2021 in Washington DC (AFP)

A group of US lawmakers from both the Senate and the House of Representatives have launched a bipartisan caucus geared towards bolstering and expanding normalisation with Israel.

Co-chaired by Senators James Lankford, Jacky Rosen, Joni Ernst and Cory Booker, as well as Representatives Cathy McMorris Rogers, Brad Schneider, Ann Wagner and David Trone, the group said on Tuesday that the caucus would "provide an opportunity to strengthen the Abraham Accords".

"The United States must continue to play an active role in fostering further dialogue and partnership between Israel and other Arab countries, and I look forward to doing just that as part of this bipartisan group," said Booker.

The caucus has the backing of several pro-Israel lobby groups, including the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, a think tank founded by Jared Kushner, former US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser.

The United Arab Emirates was the first Arab country to normalise ties with Israel during the final months of the Trump administration.

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Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco all followed suit, in deals that failed to address the Palestinian issue or Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and its settlement expansion.

Biden administration to urge more Arab states to normalise ties with Israel
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The UAE claimed Israel had promised to suspend its plans to annex parts of the West Bank, though annexation had already been shelved due to international pressure and a lack of US support.

Palestinian leadership expressed dismay over the deals, which it largely sees as a betrayal of Palestinian goals for statehood.

The agreement shattered a longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalisation with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

The Biden administration has said that while it welcomed the previous administration's normalisation deals, they are "not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace".

Many Democrats in Congress were critical of Trump's foreign policy moves. However, the US-brokered normalisations were met with bipartisan support.

Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the idea of normalisation between Indonesia and Israel during his visit to the world’s largest Muslim country, Axios reported.

US officials told The Times of Israel last year that the Trump White House had Indonesia and Mauritania lined up to be the next Muslim countries to normalise relations with Israel, but the administration ran out of time.

A deal with Jakarta could have been inked if Trump had had another month or two in office, US officials said at the time.

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