US may invite Saudi Arabia, Oman and PA to energy conference with Israel

"These invitations will go out shortly. We are hopeful they will accept them."

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette (photo credit: DAVID AZAGURY/ US EMBASSY)
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette
The United States hopes to invite Saudi Arabia, Oman and the Palestinian Authority to participate in a virtual regional conference with Israel on energy to be held in January during the last days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
It is part of the Trump administration’s flurry of activity to expand and solidify regional alliances, including through the rubric of its Abraham Accords that normalize ties between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world.
Administration officials confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that senior adviser Jared Kushner will head a delegation of American and Israeli officials that will travel next Tuesday to Morocco. Last week, Morocco agreed to normalize ties with Israel. The Israeli deletion will be led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.
The US delegation scheduled to arrive Monday will include Avi Berkowitz, assistant to Trump and a special representative for international negotiations.
The delegations are expected to fly on an El Al flight for what will be the first direct flight from Tel Aviv to Rabat.
The Morocco deal follows in the footsteps of one with Sudan and two others that have already been ratified: the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
US officials have spoken of more deals before they leave office, with attention focused on Oman and Saudi Arabia. On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
The US is targeting both Saudi Arabia and Oman to participate in a regional energy conference with Israel.
 “We spoke briefly of invitations perhaps out to Oman, Sudan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, as well as to Saudi Arabia and to Jordan,” US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told reporters in a telephone briefing Tuesday during his visit to the UAE.
He also listed the PA, which has refused to participate in any US initiatives with respect to the Abraham Accords or any Trump administration peace initiatives to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is presumed that Egypt, which has had a peace deal with Israel since 1979, and Bahrain, which signed a normalization deal with Israel this year, would also participate.
Brouillette held talks on energy in the UAE with regional officials, including from Bahrain. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz [Likud] joined virtually.
The officials focused on ways to provide affordable energy for everyone in the region. They also spoke about electricity, natural-gas pipes and emerging US technology that could benefit the region, Brouillette said. The January meeting would expand the talks he held Tuesday, he added.
There are also geopolitical goals that go beyond the region, Brouillette said. This includes energy alternatives for European countries that rely on Russia for their energy supplies and could instead benefit from the natural-gas pipeline projects in the region now under development.
“It’s our goal in the United States and our interest here is to, again, produce energy and make it available to the region, but also to create economic opportunities for Egypt, for Israel, for others who would wish to provide natural gas or perhaps crude oil to others in the world,” Brouillette said.
“We have seen countries in Europe become, in our view, overly dependent upon countries like Russia to the extent that perhaps Eastern-Med gas coming from Egypt can be used to supply Europe,” he said. “We think that is a very important geopolitical goal, not only of the US but for the Middle East as well.”
Talks in the UAE also included the Trans-Israel Pipeline (Tipline) pipeline, which connects Ashkelon to Eilat, Brouilette said.
“We think that there are some opportunities there as well for the movement of both crude oil and perhaps other products,” he said.
Separately, the movement of hydrogen in the region was also part of the talks.
US companies should be encouraged to invest in these projects, Brouillette said.
Reuters contributed to this report.