The landmark Abraham Accords that Israel
has struck with two Gulf states are an opportunity for the Palestinians and do
not come at their “expense”, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi
said Sunday.

The UAE and
Bahrain broke decades of Arab consensus with their move, condemned as a
“stab in the back” by Palestinian leaders for abandoning the position
that there would be no relations with the Jewish state until it made peace with
the Palestinians.

But at a
regional security conference in Manama, Ashkenazi said that the diplomatic
shift could help resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, after talks between
the two sides were frozen in 2014.

Abraham accords do not come at the expense of the Palestinians. Quite the
opposite, they are an opportunity that should not be missed,” he said in a
virtual address.

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“I call
on the Palestinians to change their minds and enter direct negotiation with us
without preconditions. This is the only way to solve this conflict,” he

believe as Israel moves from annexation to normalisation, there is a window to
solve this conflict,” he said, referring to its agreement to put
annexation plans on hold in return for the normalisation deal.

The United
States, which brokered the Abraham Accords, has been intensively negotiating
for more Arab nations to come in board, notably Saudi Arabia, the biggest Gulf

Mutual concern
over Iran has gradually brought Israel and Gulf nations closer, and there were
reports last month that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had held
secret talks in Saudi Arabia, fuelling speculation a normalisation accord could
be in the making.

however, denied that the meeting, reportedly between Netanyahu and Saudi Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had occurred.

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Saudi Foreign
Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told AFP in Manama Saturday that the
kingdom’s position remained resolute.

been quite clear that in order for us to proceed with normalisation we will
need to see a settlement of the Palestinian dispute and the formation of a
viable state of Palestine along the lines envisioned in the 2002 Arab Peace
Initiative,” he said.

a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis we are not going to see
true peace and stability in the region.”

Asked whether
that effectively ruled out the establishment of ties with Israel any time soon,
he said he was “optimistic that there is a path towards a resolution
between the Palestinians and Israelis”.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi former intelligence chief who is said to be
close to the top leadership, gave voice to the strong support that the
Palestinian cause still has in the region, with a fiery presentation to the
Manama meeting.

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He accused
Israel of depicting itself as a “small, existentially threatened country,
surrounded by bloodthirsty killers who want to eradicate her from

“And yet
they profess that they want to be friends with Saudi Arabia,” he said,
outlining a history of forcible eviction of Palestinians and destroyed

cannot treat an open wound with palliatives and painkillers. The Abraham
Accords are not divine writ.”