Israel signs accords with UAE, Bahrain at White House ceremony

President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON, Sep 15 (APP): The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain Tuesday signed agreements with Israel formalizing their diplomatic relations at a nationally televised ceremony presided over by United States President Donald Trump.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain inked the accords – written in English, Hebrew and Arabic – giving Trump a platform as peacemaker as he heads into his reelection campaign.

Trump is running behind the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, in several polls on the November 3, presidential election released in the past few days.

“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Trump said as he began the ceremony on a White House lawn, saying the nations present are taking a “major stride” in the direction of peace and prosperity.

Diplomats said the accords, which do not advance peace prospects between Israel and the Palestinians, in fact signal the launch of an anti-Iran coalition backed by the United states.
Although the details remain unknown, the agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, will normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and UAE and Bahrain, including the establishment of the first embassies in one another’s countries. Israel and the UAE 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.

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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 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 Shia Iran.

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“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 pro-Israel advocacy group sharply critical of 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 neighbours,” he added. Israel’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians, he said, “remains unaddressed with this agreement.”

Meeting with the Israeli prime minister in the Oval Office, Trump presented 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,” Netanyahu replied.