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Mauritania Mulls Severing Ties with Israel

In what could be a blow to the United States’ diplomacy efforts in the Middle East and North Africa, coup leaders in Mauritania are considering severing diplomatic ties with Israel.
The North African country is one of three Arab League members – along with Jordan and Egypt – that maintains full diplomatic ties with Israel.
Mauritania underwent a coup last August, and has been facing diplomatic and economic pressure from the international community, including the U.S.
Washington suspended non-humanitarian aid to Mauritania following the coup.
Washington is calling on the coup leaders to restore the deposed president to his position in a legitimate, democratic and constitutional role and to restore the democratically elected government.
Sources in Nouakchott say the coup leaders are considering severing relations with Israel in order to secure financial aid from Libya and later from Gulf countries.
Muhammad Al-Amin Ould Dada, a representative of the junta’s High Council of State, said the next elected government would cut relations with Israel, according to the Mauritanian news site Taqadoumy.
Libya has conditioned any aid on cutting ties with Israel.
Mauritanian legislators, religious leaders and civil society representatives and international diplomats are meeting to discuss a timetable for a fresh presidential election.
The calls to sever relations come as Israel is launching a wide-scale attack on Gaza, in which more than 300 Palestinians, including civilians, have been killed.
The coup leaders, who are now the de facto rulers in Mauritania, can use developments in Gaza as an impetus for cutting relations, especially when anti-Israeli sentiments there are strong.
The junta’s foreign minister issued a condemnation of the Gaza operation, and masses have taken to the streets to demonstrate.
If relations with Israel are indeed slashed, this could deal a serious blow to Washington’s efforts to install democracy and push for normalization between Middle Eastern countries and its ally, Israel. 
If Mauritania becomes more reliant on oppressive or extremist countries for aid, it could embolden anti-U.S. sentiment there and undermine democracy building.
It could also raise popular pressure on the regimes in Amman, Cairo and countries that maintain informal relations with Israel to take similar steps and sever or downgrade these ties.
There are already strong voices in Egypt and Jordan calling on their governments to cut ties with Israel until the Palestinian issue is resolved.