The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Tuesday signed agreements to establish formal relations with Israel, becoming the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to break a long-standing taboo, as part of a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries. -East against Iran.
U.S. President Donald Trump hosted the ceremony at the White House, closing a dramatic month when the United Arab Emirates, and then Bahrain, agreed to reverse decades of ill will without resolving Israel’s dispute with the Palestinians.
In front of a crowd of several hundred people on the White House lawn, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani .
The agreements, denounced by the Palestinians, make them the third and fourth Arab states to take such steps to normalize their relations since Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
Meeting Netanyahu earlier in the Oval Office, Trump said, “We will have at least five or six countries coming very quickly” to forge their own deals with Israel.
Trump later told reporters that a third Arab Gulf state, Saudi Arabia, would strike a deal with Israel “at the right time.” The Saudi cabinet underlined in a statement the need for a “just and comprehensive solution” to the Palestinian question.
Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab power in the Gulf. Its king is the guardian of the holiest sites in Islam and heads the world‘s largest oil exporter. Despite its own reluctance, the kingdom’s quiet acquiescence to the accords was seen as crucial.
“Changing the course of history”
The ceremony provided Trump with valuable footage as he tries to hold on to power in a presidential election on November 3. The flags of the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were in abundance.
“We are here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Trump said from the balcony of the White House.
Trump called the agreements “a major step forward in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity” and said the three Middle Eastern countries “will work together, they are friends.”
The back-to-back deals mark an unlikely diplomatic victory for Trump. He has spent his presidency planning deals on issues as intractable as North Korea’s nuclear program only to find the elusive results.
The rapprochement of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain reflects their common concern over Iran’s growing influence in the region and the development of ballistic missiles. Iran has criticized both agreements.
All three Middle Eastern leaders praised the agreements and Trump’s role in glowing terms, with Netanyahu saying it gave hope to “all of Abraham’s people.”
But officials from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain both sought to reassure the Palestinians that their countries were not abandoning them or their quest for a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, although the Palestinian leadership had decried the agreements as a betrayal of their cause.
In a sign that regional conflicts are sure to continue as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved, Palestinian militants fired rockets from Gaza at Israel during the ceremony, the IDF said.
Israeli ambulance service Magen David Adom said paramedics treated two men for minor injuries from shards of glass in Ashdod, and four others suffered shock.
“It’s not peace, it’s surrender in exchange for continued aggression,” read a tweet posted on the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Twitter account.
Trump’s evangelical support
As Trump seeks four more years, the agreements could help build support for pro-Israel evangelical Christian voters, an important part of his political base.
Another target of the White House’s plans, in addition to Saudi Arabia, is Oman, whose leader spoke to Trump last week. Oman sent its ambassador to the ceremony on Tuesday, a senior US official said. No Saudi representative was present.
Meeting with the UAE Foreign Minister ahead of the ceremony, Trump thanked the UAE for being the first in the Gulf to agree on normalizing relations with Israel and left little doubt on the issue. Iran towered over the event.
Trump has predicted that Iran, under heavy US sanctions, would want to strike a deal with Washington, which is trying to get it to renegotiate an international nuclear deal. Tehran shows no sign of moving.
Israel’s pact with the United Arab Emirates, titled “Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Total Normalization,” was more detailed and went further than the Bahraini document, declaring peace between countries that have never waged war against each other. .
Israel’s deal with Bahrain called for “full diplomatic relations” but avoided the term normalization.
Both documents cited the need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fairly, but neither specifically mentioned a two-state solution.
In a nod to the coronavirus, the White House encouraged but did not require attendees to wear masks. It was up to the leaders to shake hands and they did not do so in public. Most of the people in the crowd weren’t wearing masks.
Some differences remain despite the warming of links. Trump said on Tuesday he would have no problem selling advanced F-35 stealth fighter jets to the UAE, which for years has sought them out. Israel, which owns the F-35, opposes such a sale.
Frustrated by the Palestinians’ refusal to participate in Trump’s Middle East peace initiative, the White House has sought to bypass them in hopes of seeing the deals with the UAE and Bahrain as an incentive, if not a leverage, for peace talks.
Speaking to Fox News hours before the ceremony, Trump predicted the Palestinians would eventually forge peace with Israel or be “left behind.”
Palestinian leaders have long accused Trump of pro-Israel bias and denounced Arab rapprochement with Israel, even though Netanyahu agreed, in exchange for normalization with the UAE, to suspend a plan to annex parts of the West Bank busy.
Although the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations broke down in 2014, some Arab Gulf states and several other Arab countries have long maintained calm and informal contacts with Israel.
(This story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)