Trump's 'time ran out' for Mauritania, Indonesia normalisation deals: officials

Trump's 'time ran out' for Mauritania, Indonesia normalisation deals: officials
The two Muslim-majority nations were 'next in line' to normalise ties with Israel, two senior officials said this week.
2 min read
21 January, 2021
Mauritanian's protest against the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 [Getty]
Mauritania and Indonesia were next in line to normalise ties with Israel, US officials said this week.

The Trump administration drive to incentivise Arab and Muslim-majority nations to establish relations with Israel ran out of time to seal those deals before President Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, however.

Mauritania was closest to making the move, two officials told The Times of Israel. 

The west African nation was likely to have made an agreement with Israel "within weeks", they said.

"You can put every country on the list, to the point where Iran will eventually join the Abraham Accords," one of the officials added.

For the Arabic-speaking, mostly Sunni Muslim state, it would have been the second time it normalised relations with Israel.

Mauritania was the third Arab League member state to do so in 1999 but severed ties with Israel over the devestating 2008-9 Gaza war.

Nouakchott had offered mild support to the United Arab Emirates when it agreed to establish relations with Israel last year. Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have also signed normalisation agreements in the months since.

Morocco has reportedly been encouraged by the US to push ally Mauritania to join the initiative.

Indonesia was next in line to normalise ties with Israel after Mauritania, the officials told The Times of Israel, adding that an agreement could have been signed "within a month or two".

As the world's most populated Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia had a "extra symbolic importance" for the Trump administration, the officials said.

Jakarta has previously denied being in talks with Israel.

Earlier reports indicate the country, which is made up of more than 17,000 islands, could gain billions of dollars in US investment and aid if it agrees to establish relations with Israel.

The Trump administration was also in talks with Oman and Saudi Arabia, the officials added.

"I hope the Biden administration takes advantage of this because these are good for everyone. Peace is not a Republican ideal or a Democratic ideal," one of the senior officials said.

It is unclear whether President Joe Biden will continue with the normalisation drive pushed by the Trump adminsitration.

Advisors to the now-president told Axios in December that the normalisation accords are one of the only Trump foreign policy initiatives that Biden agrees with.

"He said he'll push it forward, and they'll try to get other Arab states to do the same thing," said Dan Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel.

The US-brokered normalisation agreements have been met with widespread condemnation from Palestinians and Muslim-majority nations.

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