Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, and Mauritania were in the final stages of closing a normalization deal with Israel, but time ran out as Donald Trump’s presidency drew to a close, two U.S. officials told The Times of Israel this week.
Mauritania was the closest to signing an agreement, the report said.
The northwest African country, a member of the Arab League, established full diplomatic ties with Israel in 1999, but severed them a decade later as a result of the 2008-2009 Gaza war.
Mauritania also has close ties with Morocco, which last month became the fourth country to enter the Abraham Accords after the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.
The officials said Indonesia would have likely normalized a deal with Israel in the next month or two had Trump remained in office.
A senior administration official told Bloomberg that Indonesia could receive as much as $2 billion in development aid from the U.S.
“We’re talking to them about it,” said Adam Boehler, the CEO of the US International Development Finance Corp. who has worked closely with Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner. “If they’re ready, they’re ready, and if they are then we’ll be happy to even support more financially than what we do.”
According to the U.S. official, no Muslim country is off the table to enter the Abraham Accords with Israel – even Iran.
“Mauritania and Indonesia are high on the list, but it changes based upon various circumstances,” he said. “You can put every country on the list, to the point where Iran will eventually join the Abraham Accords.”
Another official said less advanced talks regarding Israel normalization were talking place with Oman and Saudi Arabia.
“I hope the Biden administration takes advantage of this because these are good for everyone. Peace is not a Republican ideal or a Democratic ideal,” The Times of Israel quoted the senior official as saying.
While President-elect Joe Biden has expressed support for the Abraham Accords, it is unlikely that more deals would be prioritized as highly as they were for the Trump administration, given the pandemic as well as Biden’s desire to reenter the nuclear deal with Iran.
The Trump administration official said that “if the U.S. wants to continue to motivate the Abraham Accords, three to four more countries should be the low bar for its success. Being unable to deliver that would be a significant disappointment.”
“There’s no doubt that when the U.S. wants to lead toward peace and normalization, more countries will follow,” the senior official added.