Mike Pompeo, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday. (AP)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he hoped other Arab countries would also establish diplomatic relations with Israel as he kicked off a Mideast tour on Monday to press the momentum of the Trump administration’s Arab-Israeli peace push.

Pompeo spoke during a joint statement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, the first stop on a multi-country tour of the region following the Aug. 13 announcement of the agreement between Israel and the UAE, brokered by Washington, to establish diplomatic ties.

“It we will see other Arab nations join in this,” Pompeo said. “The opportunity for them to work alongside, to recognize the state of Israel and to work alongside them will not only increase Middle East stability, but it will improve the lives for the people of their own countries as well.”

The Israel-UAE agreement delivered a key foreign policy victory to President Donald Trump as he seeks reelection and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

Both Pompeo and Netanyahu criticized the lack of international support for the US demand for the restoration of UN sanctions against Iran. The Trump administration has been pushing at the Security Council to have so-called “snapback” sanctions imposed on Iran over what Washington says is Iran’s violation of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“We are determined to use every tool that we have to ensure they can’t get access to high-end weapon systems,” Pompeo said. “The rest of the world should join us.”
Earlier this month, the US, Israel and the UAE announced the deal to establish full diplomatic relations, which also requires Israel to freeze its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank sought by the Palestinians as part of their future state.

Netanyahu called the agreement “a boon to peace and regional stability” that “heralds a new era where we could have other nations join.” He restated that the agreement does not include Israel’s acceptance of the sale of sophisticated weaponry to the Emirates.

Pompeo said the US was committed to maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” and would be reviewing arms deals with the UAE. (AP inputs)

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