The leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are seeking to encourage Arab nations to establish economic relations with Israel, the Al-Arabi Al-Jadid newspaper reported Thursday.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who met in Cairo on Monday, also discussed President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century,” his peace plan for the Middle East, the report said.
Trump is expected to unveil the plan at the beginning of 2019.
The two leaders reportedly discussed ways to ensure the plan is as inclusive as possible and moves Arab states towards establishing ties with Israel.
The possibility of an Arab summit that would include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is also being considered. While Jordan reportedly supports holding such a summit, and the United Arab Emirates expressed interest in joining as well, PA head Mahmoud Abbas has previously voiced opposition to such a proposal out of fear that he would be forced to make concessions in a future peace agreement.
Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel 41 years ago and has since maintained official diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
Saudi Arabia is officially at a state of war with Israel, but multiple reports indicate that the two countries covertly maintain ties at some level, especially on military and intelligence issues. Both perceive Iran as a significant threat and collaborate in order to combat its expansionist threat.
In another development on Thursday, Reuters reported that Syria’s air defense forces shot down an Israeli war plane and four missiles, Russia’s RIA news agency said, citing a Syrian security source, but Israel’s military said the report was bogus.
The source said the missiles aimed at the town of Kiswah, south of the capital Damascus, were struck before they reached their targets that Syrian opposition sources said were Iranian-backed strongholds.
The area where the incident is said to have occurred is where Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a group backed by Iran, has its communications and logistics hub for southern Syria near the Israeli border, according to two senior regional intelligence sources.
Among the targets struck were two Syrian army brigades where Lebanon’s Hezbollah group is embedded alongside a rocket depot close to its bases near the border with Lebanon, another Syrian army defector in touch with military personnel said.
Unlike previous occasions, the Syrian authorities did not blame Israel. (World Israel News)
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