Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump in Jerusalem for Abraham Accords initiative

Knesset Member Ofir Akunis presents Jared Kushner with a gift as Ivanka Trump, Israeli Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara look on in Jerusalem, on Oct 11, 2021.
Knesset Member Ofir Akunis presents Jared Kushner with a gift as Ivanka Trump, Israeli Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara look on in Jerusalem, on Oct 11, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli lawmakers flanked by former president Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law launched an initiative in Jerusalem on Monday (Oct 11) to advance the Abraham Accords that saw Arab states normalise ties with Israel.

Jared Kushner, a former White House adviser married to Ivanka Trump, was a major architect of the deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

At the launch of the Abraham Accords Caucus in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, Kushner said the agreements created a "new paradigm" in the region, which could have "very different outcomes" depending on the actions of current leaders.

Critics of the Trump approach accused him of advancing Arab reconciliation with Israel as a substitute for meaningful efforts to advance the rights of the Palestinians.

The accords broke with decades of Arab consensus that there would be no relations with Israel while the Palestinian question remains unresolved.

Trump considered the accords a major foreign policy legacy.

They were signed by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was cheered at Monday's event, but the pacts have been fully supported by the coalition that ousted him in June.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Netanyahu's staunch political rival, said at the launch that he would work to "expand the circle of the Abraham Accords" during an upcoming visit to Washington.

Israeli media have reported on some frustration among Israeli officials about a lack of momentum from President Joe Biden's administration to expand the accords engineered under Trump.

Biden's Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised last month to encourage more Arab countries to recognise Israel to "keep normalisation marching forward." He is to meet in Washington next week with Lapid and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed to discuss "progress made" since the signing of the pacts.

Several former top Trump administration officials were also in Jerusalem on Monday, coinciding with the launch.

Later that day, Trump's former ambassador to Israel David Friedman launched his Friedman Center for Peace Through Strength, in an event attended by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and ex-treasury secretary Stephen Mnuchin.