WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump personally engaged with Arab world leaders over the weekend in his effort to reboot a regional peace process."Spoke yesterday with the King of Saudi Arabia about peace in the Middle-East," the president wrote on Twitter early on Monday morning. "Interesting things are happening!"A White House readout of the president's Sunday calls — with Saudi Arabia's King Salman, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and emir of Qatar — made no reference to a Middle East peace process with Israel, only detailing his conversations with regional leaders over a Riyadh-led blockade of Doha."He reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology," the White House statement reads. The US, Israel and Gulf states have long accused Qatar of funding Hamas. "The president also underscored that unity in the region is critical to accomplishing the Riyadh Summit’s goals of defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability.""President Trump, nevertheless, believes that the overriding objective of his initiative is the cessation of funding for terrorism," it adds.
Trump and his team hope to restart direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians with an assist from regional leaders, capitalizing on an alignment of interests between Israel and the Gulf states. They are eyeing an outside-in approach that would pair Israeli-Arab normalization with a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.But Palestinian and Jordanian sources told The Jerusalem Post last month that the Saudis are insisting an Israeli-Palestinian peace must precede a wider Israeli-Arab peace — not the other way around.
Trump: Saudi Arabia has a “very positive” feeling toward Israel (credit: REUTERS)