WASHINGTON: Israel has normalised relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates at a White House ceremony after was peace deal was brokered by United States President Donald Trump.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the UAE signed the accords establishing full diplomatic ties. Hundreds of guests attended the event but there were no handshakes to cement the historic agreements.
Bahrain and UAE are the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Trump hailed it as a “historic day for peace in the Middle East” saying similar deals were close between the Jewish state and several other nations including Saudi Arabia.
“After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” he said. Trump said the agreements “will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.” Speaking later to reporters, he said Israel would enter into similar deals with other countries soon including Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu called the day a “pivot of history” and thanked Trump for his leadership. “It heralds a new dawn of peace,” he said. “Ultimately it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all. To all of Israel’s friends in the Middle East, those who are with us today and those who will join us tomorrow, I say as-salaam alaikum, peace unto thee, shalom,” Netanyahu said.
Trump and Netanyahu did not make any reference to the Palestinians during their remarks. Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said that only an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories can bring peace to the Middle East. “Peace, security and stability will not be achieved in the region until the Israeli occupation ends,” Abbas said.
The UAE and Bahrain foreign ministers made a point of mentioning the Palestinians in their remarks before the signing ceremony. “Thank you for choosing peace and halting the annexation of Palestinian territories,” UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan told Netanyahu. “I stand here today to extend a hand of peace.”
Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani said a “just, comprehensive and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” would be the “bedrock” for lasting Middle East peace.
This event allows Trump the opportunity to preside over a historic breakthrough less than 50 days before the 3rd November election. It also provides good news coverage to Netanyahu who faces a corruption trial and criticism over his handling of the pandemic.
The UAE has been using the negotiations as part of its campaign to pressure Washington to sell it the cutting edge F-35 warplane. Trump said he was willing to sell the warplanes to the UAE despite Israeli opposition.