From left: Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan after signing the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFP)
WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump hosted a signing ceremony Tuesday at the White House for the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab states of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, VOA has reported.
“These visionary leaders will sign the first two peace deals between Israel and the Arab state in more than a quarter century,” Trump said. “In Israel’s entire history there have previously been only two such agreements, now we have achieved two in a single month.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani signed the so-called “Abraham Accords” on the South Lawn of the White House, according to VOA.
“This peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately can end the Arab-Israeli conflict, once and for all,” said Netanyahu.
The Israel-UAE deal was initially reached on August 13 between Israel and UAE, with Bahrain announcing last Friday that it will also formally recognize the Jewish state.
“We are witnessing today a new trend that will create a better path for the Middle East,” said Abdullah bin Zayed through an interpreter. He added that this new vision “is not a slogan that we raise for political gains” and that “peace is our guiding principle.”
Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani called the normalization agreement an “important first step,” the VOA reported.
“It is now incumbent on us to work urgently and actively to bring about the lasting peace and security our peoples deserve,” he said. “A just, comprehensive and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be the foundation, the bedrock of such peace.”
Middle East peace
While Trump did not mention the Palestinians in his remarks during the signing ceremony, he acknowledged that the normalization agreements between Israel and Arab nations was part of a broader diplomatic effort to pressure Palestinians into negotiating a peace deal, according to the VOA.
“We’ve taken a very different path,” Trump said during a bilateral meeting at the Oval office with UAE’s Abdullah bin Zayed prior to the ceremony. “You could say it’s a back door, but I call it a smart door.”
Gulf Arab countries had long conditioned full normalization of ties with Israel on it providing concessions and progress on the two-state solution, envisioning an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
But regional countries no longer think it’s possible to use normalization with Israel as a bargaining chip to achieve the two-state solution, said Will Todman, associate fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Todman said the accord also reflects growing regional concerns about Iran and Turkey.
“Arab Gulf States and Israel have more in common in terms of their opposition to Iran than they have in opposition in relation to their views on Palestinian aspirations as stated,” Todman said. “I think that’s an important geopolitical shift.” (VOA)