Saudi Arabia to Establish Ties With Israel?; Peace, the Final Frontier: Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi to Launch Joint Space Mission

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.

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The administration of US President Joe Biden is discussing with Saudi Arabia the possibility of normalizing relations with Israel by joining the Abraham Accords, Israeli media reported. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan raised the issue last month in Riyadh during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), according to American and Arab sources involved in the talks.

The sources said that during the conversation, MBS did not immediately reject the proposal to establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, listing the steps needed to make the move, including improving the relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The report states that any deal would need to be part of a larger package that would include Israeli measures regarding the Palestinians and a thawing of relations between Washington and Riyadh. The Biden Administration has taken a critical stance toward the Kingdom, focusing on human rights and raising the issue of the assassination of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

According to the report, senior White House officials told a conference call with Jewish leaders that several other countries are open to normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel, and that the US is “quietly” engaging with them on the issue.

The Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords originally included the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with the later additions of Sudan and Morocco.

   

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Besides reopening a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in western Jerusalem, the Biden Administration is reportedly looking to establish a branch in the eastern part of the city within the next few weeks. The move was commended by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who expressed hope it would “lay the foundation for a future US embassy in the Palestinian state.”

The US consulate used to be located on Nablus Road in eastern Jerusalem but was moved to the western part of the capital in 2010. The mission operated from there until its closure by former US president Donald Trump in 2019.

Since last spring, the Biden Administration has pressured Israel to allow the US to reopen a separate consulate, solely for Palestinian Arabs, in the heart of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Recently, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Washington will move forward with reopening a “Palestinian” consulate – even though Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced Israel’s firm opposition to such a consulate.

“I spoke with [Prime Minister Naftali Bennett] a couple of times on the issue. We are on the same page, and we don’t see differently,” Sa’ar said, adding: “For us, it’s a generation’s commitment. We will not compromise on this.”

   

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Israel and the United Arab Emirates finalized an agreement to collaborate on a number of space projects, including a joint launch of the “Beresheet 2” space mission to the moon, Israel’s second upcoming attempt to land an unmanned spacecraft on the lunar surface by 2024. The countries expect to plant their flags alongside each other.

Another project will see university students from both Israel and the UAE use data from the Beresheet 2 mission to help determine the precise time of the new moon. Both the Jewish and Muslim calendars are governed by the lunar calendars, with the dates of major holidays being determined by the moon’s cycle.

The United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA) also signed a deal with the Israel Space Agency to enhance cooperation in scientific research, space exploration, and knowledge transfer.

The signing of the agreements came a day after UAE Ambassador to Israel, Muhammad Mahmoud Al Khajah, invited Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Abu Dhabi for an official state visit, on behalf of UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The invitation was extended during a lunch meeting Bennett held with Khajah and Bahrain Ambassador to Israel Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma. The three discussed expanding ties between the nations and further strengthening the Abraham Accords.

   

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Hailing from Manipur in northeast India, 235 immigrants from the Bnei Menashe community landed in Israel after years of waiting to come home. They are descendants of the lost biblical tribe of Menashe and have preserved the Jewish tradition across 27 centuries of exile. The latest group of Bnei Menashe to arrive was assisted by Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata and the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, following months of preparation in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel.

Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, said more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe already live in the Jewish state and have been integrated into Israel society successfully.

Tamano-Shata welcomed the newcomers: “It’s good that you are at home. For years you dreamed about returning to Zion and now we have managed to make the dream come true.”

The ancestors of the Bnei Menashe were part of the Assyrian exile. These families wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the borders of Burma and Bangladesh.

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