Trump departure ‘certainly given pause’ to peace deals, says US special envoy

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Trump departure ‘certainly given pause’ to peace deals, says US special envoy

By Josh Plank, World Israel News -

Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, outgoing U.S. special envoy for economic normalization in the Middle East, voiced optimism about the region while acknowledging that a changing U.S. administration has led to uncertainty about future peace deals in an interview with Kan News on Wednesday.

When asked whether the lack of a second term for the Trump administration had damaged developing peace negotiations between Arab nations and Israel, Lightstone said, “I don’t want to say ‘damaged,’ but certainly has given pause.”

“Anybody doing any deal ever knows that it’s easier to do a deal when you’ve got certainty and it’s less easy to do a deal when there’s uncertainty,” he said.

The Trump administration has successfully brokered normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Lightstone said he has been involved in talks with “over a dozen more” countries.

He said that he believes Saudi Arabia will be ready for a normalization agreement with Israel “at some point.”

“[T]he region is pivoting towards the benefits of greater prosperity, security, and safety for all of the inhabitants,” he said.

Lightstone said it is in America’s best interest for countries to be not dependent but independent.

“And if you are going to become independent and rejoin the community of nations, it’s been the policy of this president that you can’t do that and still decide that you’re not going to have normalization with Israel,” he said.

“You can’t be my best friend unless you’re going to talk to my other best friend, right? It’s not possible. I can’t imagine a relationship like that,” said Lightstone.

He said that this seemingly obvious fact was “not obvious at all” to other nations when the normalization talks began.

In an interview with i24News on Sunday, Lightstone was optimistic about future normalization agreements, saying there would be “definitely more to come.”

“Peace does not belong to Republicans or to Democrats. It is not an issue for Jews, or Christians, or Muslims; it’s an issue for mankind,” he said.

“I don’t need to prognosticate about a future administration because I can prognosticate about the American people. The American people and the United States of America have always been for peace. They’ve always been for freedom. They’ve always been for prosperity. They’ve always been for security,” said Lightstone.

“The Abraham Accords, stemming and starting with the United States of America standing without any daylight between our number one ally in the region, Israel, has caused and created the room for the Abraham Accords to progress and to progress rapidly. Any and every American will be supportive of this,” he said.

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, to whom Lightstone has served as a senior advisor, told CBN News in a recent interview that the Trump administration has left the Mideast in a good place.

“I would urge real caution in changing any of the dynamic. It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it,” he said.


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