The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, that Kuwait could likely face pressure to normalize its relations with Israel, after the death of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
“A senior Kuwaiti royal said he expects Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. to try to pressure Kuwait to follow their lead more, especially on regional issues where Sheikh Sabah sought to play the middle,” according to the report.
Kuwait for decades has taken a neutral path in many of the intractable conflicts of the Middle East, but the death of Prince Sabah puts his successor, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in front of a dilemma as to whether or not to normalize relations with Israel without establishing a state for the Palestinians.
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, who died on Tuesday, was a veteran diplomat who clung to his support for the Palestinians even after the support of Arab countries waned. The recent normalization agreements sponsored by the United States between the UAE and Bahrain with Israel have put pressure on a number of Arab countries, including Kuwait.
Trump announced earlier this month, after meeting at the White House with Al-Sabah’s eldest son, a former defense minister and a strong candidate to be crown prince, that Kuwait would be the next country to establish formal relations with Israel.
However, a week after Trump’s statements, the Kuwaiti prime minister emphasized, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, his country’s insistence that peace with the Palestinians precedes the Arab world’s normalization of relations with Israel.
On Tuesday, the Kuwaiti Parliament approved the succession of Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as the new Emir of Kuwait, and declared public mourning for a period of 40 days.
According to WikiLeaks leaks in 2008, Sheikh Sabah assigned his son, who was director of the Amiri Diwan, to “maintain hidden and secret relations with an Israeli representative with dual nationality who was residing in an area in the Gulf.”