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 up to three years to allow the Palestinians to come to the table for negotiations.
Palestinian leadership rejected the Trump plan outright in January and has not spoken with the Trump administration since 2018 when the president ended all U.S. aid and closed the Palestinian Consulate in Washington.
Kushner on Wednesday said the peace plan is still on the table and the administration is open to speaking with the Palestinians but has not reached out to Ramallah.
“We’ve chosen not to chase them, but the moment that they’re ready to engage, we believe that we have the ability to make a peace deal between them and Israel,” he said.
Kushner pointed to other progress in the region, including that a recent meeting of the Arab League — where majority-Arab and -Muslim nations have historically shunned recognizing the Jewish state absent a political solution with the Palestinians — did not condemn agreements between the UAE and Israel.
“What we’re seeing now in the Middle East is that the tide is really changing and countries are doing now what’s in their best interests,” Kushner said. “Countries support the Palestinians, America supports the Palestinians, but people want to see a resolution that’s a fair and proper resolution, but they’re not going to hold back their own progress.”