Trump officials: Mauritania, Indonesia were next to normalize, but time ran out

US peace team was ‘weeks’ away from inking deal with northwest African country to re-establish ties with Israel, outgoing officials say, adding that Jakarta was not far behind

19 January 2021

The Trump administration was closing in on agreements with Mauritania and Indonesia to be the next Muslim countries to normalize relations with Israel, but ran out of time before the Republican president’s term ended, two US officials told The Times of Israel this week.

An agreement with Mauritania was the closest to being reached, with US officials believing they were mere weeks away from finalizing a deal. The northwest African country was identified by the Trump peace team led by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Avi Berkowitz as a likely candidate to follow the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in normalizing with the Jewish state, given that it once had relations with Israel.

Mauritania became just the third member of the Arab League to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1999, but severed ties 10 years later against the backdrop of the 2008-2009 Gaza war.

After the UAE agreed to normalize ties with Israel in August, Mauritania’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement offering tepid support for the deal, saying it trusted Abu Dhabi’s “wisdom and good judgment” in signing the accord.

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