Saturday, June 19

U.S. Presses Other Muslim Nations to Establish Ties With Israel

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration sought on Tuesday to test the waters to determine if it can persuade other Arab and Muslim countries to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel after a breakthrough agreement by the United Arab Emirates to open normal ties.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Sudan and Bahrain, two of the administration’s top prospects for bringing Israel together with more of its neighbors in a region where it has faced generations of hostility. But American officials cautioned that the situation remained fluid and no one should expect overnight agreements.

To maintain a sense of momentum, President Trump is sending a delegation to Israel next week to accompany high-level Israeli officials on the first direct commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, probably on an El Al carrier with its traditional Star of David on the tail. The delegations will seek to forge cooperation in the aviation, security, health and banking sectors, among others, in accordance with the agreement that the two nations announced two weeks ago.

“This is a historic agreement,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said in a statement. “It will bring engines of growth. It can help bring about an economic flourishing in general and during the corona era in particular. I hope that other countries in our region will join the cycle of peace.”

Mr. Pompeo made a point on Tuesday of posting on Twitter a photograph of his airplane’s in-flight map during his flight from Tel Aviv to Omdurman in Sudan. “Happy to announce that we are on the FIRST official NONSTOP flight from Israel to Sudan!” he wrote.

From there, he flew to Bahrain, where he tweeted: “The Abraham Accords show that peace is achievable. Seizing the momentum is vital.”

But there are complicating factors. Sudan has been ruled by a transitional government since the fall of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir last year, and a spokesman was quoted telling news agencies that it “does not have a mandate” to “decide on normalization with Israel.”

Moreover, Sudan wants something from the United States — to be taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation it has had since the 1990s when it sheltered Osama bin Laden — which would help reintegrate its struggling economy with that of the outside world.

Mr. Pompeo wants Sudan to compensate victims of the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa before it is removed from the list, while Sudan wants Congress to provide immunity against future lawsuits stemming from past terrorist incidents.

Lara Jakes contributed reporting from Washington, and David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem.

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