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Israel hoping for agreement with fifth Muslim country before Trump leaves White House, minister says

Israel hoping for agreement with fifth Muslim country before Trump leaves White House, minister says
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Israel is hoping a peace agreement with a fifth Muslim country will be announced before President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE leaves the White House next month, an Israeli government minister said Wednesday.

“We are working in that direction” Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis told Israel’s Ynet News when asked if a fifth country would formalize ties with the Jewish state before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20.

"There will be an American announcement about another country that is going public with the normalization of relations with Israel and, in essence, with the infrastructure for an accord - a peace accord," he said.

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Akunis also said there are two main candidates, though he did not name which countries could make another historic peace deal with Israel.

He said one is in the Gulf, but it is not Saudi Arabia.

The other country is a "Muslim country that is not small, but is not Pakistan,” Akunis told Ynet.

The remarks follow the Trump administration's successful efforts to broker peace accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. The peace deals have marked some of the outgoing administration’s greatest foreign policy achievements, and officials have said they hope to bring at least one more country into the mix by the time Trump leaves office. 

Arab and Muslim countries had long refused to recognize Israel until it reaches an agreement with the Palestinians that would allow them to create a state of their own. However, a full-court press by the Trump administration and shifting informal alliances between Israel and Arab nations against Iran have pushed countries to the negotiating table in recent months.