Gulf States Offer Unprecedented Steps to Normalize Israel Ties in Exchange for Partial Settlement Freeze

Various Sunni Arab countries offer to establish direct telecom lines with Israel, among other steps, if Israel makes gestures toward Palestinians, according to Wall Street Journal report

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends the 28th Ordinary Summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, Jordan March 29, 2017
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends the 28th Ordinary Summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, Jordan March 29, 2017 MOHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS

The Gulf states have compiled a proposal to take unprecedented steps toward normalization with Israel if the Netanyahu government in turn makes gestures to the Palestinians, such as freezing settlement construction in parts of the West Bank and easing trade restrictions in the Gaza Strip, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

The report is based on details from a document that was prepared during discussions between various Sunni Arab countries. According to the report, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are leading the proposal, also updated the American administration and Israel on the bid.

The Arab countries suggest taking steps such as establishing direct telecommunication lines between Israel and some of the Arab countries, permitting Israeli airlines to fly over the airspace of Gulf states and abolishing  trade limitations with Israel. Additional normalization steps being weighed include the granting of visas to Israeli athletes and business people interested in visiting Gulf states. In return, the Sunni states are demanding that the Netanyahu government take significant steps to advance the peace process with the Palestinians, in particular the freezing of construction outside settlement blocs.