Trump Hosts Israel, U.A.E. and Bahrain at White House Signing Ceremony

WASHINGTON — Proclaiming that “there’s going to be peace in the Middle East,” President Trump hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the foreign ministers of United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House on Tuesday for the formal signing of new diplomatic accords between them.

The ceremony took place on the White House’s South Lawn marking an agreement that has become a focal point of the president’s foreign policy message in the closing weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Although the details remain unknown, the agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, will normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and U.A.E. and Bahrain, including the establishment of the first embassies in one another’s countries. Israel and the U.A.E. recently announced the start of the first commercial flights between them. Until now, Israel had normal relations with only two other Arab states, Jordan and Egypt.

The staging of the event seemed designed to invoke the scene 25 years ago in the same location, when President Bill Clinton brokered an agreement — and iconic handshake — between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

But many analysts of the region, while affording Mr. Trump credit for helping to broker the agreement — work spearheaded by his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner — called the talk of peace overblown. They note that Israel has long been moving into a de facto alliance with the Persian Gulf’s Sunni Arab states, largely in common cause against Shiite Iran.

“It’s not conflict resolution and it’s not peace — this is a business deal,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group sharply critical of Mr. Netanyahu. “It’s very, very clear that there are aligned interests between Israel and these countries — military, security, diplomatic, economic — and those interests have been there for two decades.”

“This formalizes that, but it shouldn’t be overplayed as resolving a core conflict for Israel with its neighbors,” he added. Israel’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians, he said, “remains unaddressed with this agreement.”

Meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump presented Mr. Netanyahu with a large golden key embedded in a wooden box that he described as “a key to the White House, a key to our country.”

“You have the key to the hearts of the people of Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu replied.

“This is peace in the Middle East without blood all over the sand,” Mr. Trump added.

Speaking on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump boasted that Tuesday’s event was just the beginning of grander things to come.

“We have many others going to be coming in over a short period of time,” Mr. Trump said. “And the Palestinians will ultimately come in too. You’re going to have peace in the Middle East.”

But during Tuesday’s ceremony the Palestinians seemed an afterthought, going unmentioned in the official remarks of Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu.

Palestinian leaders, however, show no sign

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Trump presides over signing ceremony between Isreal and United Arab Emirates and Bahrain

“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said, addressing a crowd on the South Lawn from a lectern set up on the balcony above. “Thanks to the courage of the leaders present, we take a major stride toward a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds can live together in peace and prosperity.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the ceremony, but the UAE and Bahrain chose to send their foreign ministers rather than heads of state or government. That, along with precautions against the spread of the coronavirus, denied Trump the chance to fully re-create the historic group handshakes that were the symbolic capstone of past White House peace ceremonies.

Nonetheless, the agreement is historic on its own. The last Arab state to make peace with Israel was Jordan, in 1994. Egypt was the first, in 1979. The agreement is also significant for relegating the Palestinians to the sidelines. Palestinian leaders have rejected the Trump peace efforts for three years and have called the two Arab nations traitors to their cause.

Neither UAE nor Bahrain is at war with Israel, so the document is not a peace treaty in the formal sense. But until now, both Persian Gulf states had officially considered Israel to be illegitimate.

Arab states in the Persian Gulf have edged closer to Israel over the past decade, largely in response to a shared desire to blunt Iranian influence in the region.

On Tuesday, Trump once again expressed a desire to strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear program after earlier in his administration ripping up an accord reached by Tehran with the Obama administration to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Trump and administration officials contend that agreement did not do enough to prevent Iran from building a weapon or to blunt its aggressive behavior in the region.

“I really believe Iran wants to make a deal,” Trump said during a meeting in the Oval Office with Netanyahu ahead of the signing ceremony. “I want Iran to be a great country.”

Trump separately welcomed the foreign ministers and Netanyahu in Oval Office meetings, two of which were opened to reporters. UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed told Trump the deal offers a chance for more cooperation in the region, and more between the United States and UAE.

Netanyahu, a frequent visitor to the White House, grinned as Trump presented him with a ceremonial gold key, which Trump called a “key to the White House.”

“You have the key to the heart of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu replied.

Trump predicted that five more countries could soon fallow suit and recognize Israel. He declined to name them.

A Trump administration official, briefing reporters Monday, declined to spell out what the documents being signed would say, adding that the texts would not be available until sometime after the White House ceremony.

The official spoke on the condition of

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White House invites Democrats to signing ceremony with UAE, Israel, Bahrain

The White House has invited senior Democratic lawmakers to a ceremony where representatives from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will sign an agreement with Israel to normalize relations on Tuesday. 

A senior administration official told reporters Monday that a large number of Democrats were invited to the signing ceremony scheduled to take place on the White House South Lawn on Tuesday. The official said that at least some Democrats were expected to attend the ceremony, but did not offer any names. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCrowd aims ‘lock him up’ chant at Obama during Trump rally Nevada governor: Trump ‘taking reckless and selfish actions’ in holding rally Michigan lieutenant governor blasts Trump coronavirus response: He ‘is a liar who has killed people’ MORE helped broker a historic agreement between the UAE and Israel to normalize relations in August. Last week, Trump announced that Bahrain had also reached a deal with Israel to normalize relations. 

The parties will sign the agreement, dubbed the “Abraham Accords,” at the White House ceremony Tuesday, marking a notable diplomatic achievement for Trump. The agreement between the UAE and Israel received bipartisan acclaim when it was announced by the White House last month. 

The presence of Democrats at the ceremony will be a rare sight. The White House has previously declined to invite Democrats when the president has signed major legislation, like the president’s March signing of $2 trillion in coronavirus relief funding. Partisan tensions remain high in Washington as Republicans and Democrats spar over future coronavirus relief and the upcoming election.

The senior administration official said Monday that a few hundred individuals were expected to attend the outdoor ceremony on Tuesday, and that masks were recommended but not required amid the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the foreign delegations will be tested for COVID-19 prior to the ceremony. 

The senior administration official said all three parties will sign one document, the “Abraham Accords,” and that the parties would sign bilateral agreements with one another to cement the agreements. The official did not go into substantive detail about the content of the documents. 

The deal between the UAE and Israel represented a significant breakthrough in diplomatic relations between the two nations as the Trump administration works to facilitate cooperation between Arab nations and Israel. In a surprise announcement from the Oval Office on Friday, Trump announced that Bahrain and Israel would also normalize relations. 

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Trump to host Israel, UAE for historic signing ceremony at White House next week

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump-backed candidate wins NH GOP Senate primary to take on Shaheen Trump, supporters gather without masks in NC despite request from local GOP official Trump-backed candidate wins NH GOP primary to take on Pappas MORE will host representatives from Israel and the United Arab Emirates next week at the White House for a historic ceremony establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, administration officials said on Wednesday. 

The ceremony will take place on Sept. 15, one month after the president announced the significant breakthrough in diplomatic relations between Israel and the Gulf nation, called the Abraham Accords. 

It also follows a number of important moves toward normalizing relations between countries in the region, including the first direct flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia granting permission for the aircraft to fly through its air space, a significant gesture signaling a public warming of relations between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerUS brokers economic breakthrough for Serbia, Kosovo Karlie Kloss, a Kushner relative, to appear at Biden campaign event Melania Trump used private email account while in White House, ex-friend says MORE, who took the inaugural flight last week, said there’s a “tremendous sense of optimism in the Middle East.”

“I would say that it’s almost like we’ve unleashed an energy, positivity in the region that is really quite overwhelming,” he said in a briefing with reporters.

Kushner said Israel and the UAE will choose their own representatives to send to the signing ceremony and that the White House will invite both Democrats and Republicans to the event in a show of bipartisanship.

“We hope that Republicans, Democrats will come together to join us in this great celebration,” he said.

Kushner said officials are discussing a deal to sell F-35 stealth jet fighters to the UAE and that Trump is working with Israel to ensure its qualitative military edge (QME), a provision enshrined in U.S. law that is meant to ensure Jerusalem maintains military superiority in the face of any credible threats.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE has publicly opposed the sale of the F-35s despite condoning the sale in private, The New York Times reported last week, citing officials familiar with the negotiations. 

Kushner said the U.S. will work within the QME but that Abu Dhabi is a “great military partner” for America and is facing threats from Iran. 

“They’re right on the border with Iran and have real threats,” he said.

As part of the opening of relations between the UAE and Israel, Netanyahu agreed to “suspend” plans to annex territory in the West Bank that was identified in Trump’s proposed peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians unveiled in January, Prosperity to Peace.

Trump administration officials said at the time that Israel did not have to wait to annex territory identified in the plan but that it would put a freeze on land earmarked for a Palestinian state for

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Israel-UAE accord set for Sept 15 signing at White House

Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign a US-brokered agreement normalizing their relations at the White House on September 15, a US official said Tuesday.

It is Israel’s first such agreement with a Gulf nation and only its third with an Arab state, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and US allies in the Middle East, including the oil-rich Gulf monarchies, is central to US President Donald Trump’s regional strategy to contain Iran, also an arch-foe of Israel.

The landmark deal between Israel and the UAE was reached last month — a bombshell announced by Trump himself.

“President Trump will host a historic signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on September 15 at the White House,” a senior White House official said.

Senior delegations from both countries will be present, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “likely” to lead the contingent from the Jewish state, the official said.

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed will lead their delegation, the official added.

Under the deal, Israel has agreed to “suspend” annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, without saying for how long.

The Palestinians have slammed the UAE’s move as a “stab in the back” while their own conflict with Israel remains unresolved.

Washington has expressed hope that more Arab countries will build ties with Israel, as a way of building stability in the turbulent Middle East.


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