Historic peace agreement signed between UAE, Bahrain and Israel
WASHINGTON –In a festive mood on the sun-washed South Lawn of the White House, the UAE, Bahrain and Israel signed historic peace agreements in the presence of US President Donald Trump.
Observers described the Washington ceremony as a major breakthrough after a long history of animosity between Israel and its Arab neighbours. They pointed out that the optimistic atmosphere that prevailed in the ceremony is likely to open the way for similar agreements with other Arab countries.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Trump said from a balcony overlooking the South Lawn.
“After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” he added, expressing confidence that the event “will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”
In front of a crowd of several hundred people, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani signed the peace agreements with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli premier described the day as “a pivot of history. It heralds a new dawn of peace.”
The UAE foreign minister said: “Today, we are already witnessing a change in the heart of the Middle East — a change that will send hope around the world.”
Zayani expressed the same sense of unprecedented achievement. “Today is a truly historic occasion,” he said. “A moment for hope and opportunity.”
Both the Emirati and Bahraini foreign ministers made a point to mention Palestinian rights in their remarks before the signing ceremony.
“Thank you for choosing peace and halting the annexation of Palestinian territories,” the UAE’s foreign minister told Netanyahu. “I stand here today to extend a hand of peace.”
The Bahraini foreign minister said a “just, comprehensive and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” would be the “bedrock” for lasting Middle East peace.
Referring to other Arab countries possibly signing peace agreements with Israel, Trump said earlier in the oval office: “We’ll have at least five or six countries coming along very quickly” to forge their own accords with Israel.
He later told reporters that Saudi Arabia would strike an agreement with Israel “at the right time.”
“I held talks with the Saudi monarch (King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) and with the Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz), and they have an open mind and will join peace,” said the US president.
Trump revealed that Israel, the UAE and Bahrain will exchange ambassadors and cooperate with each other as friendly countries, and that the agreement will allow Muslims from around the world to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
He further promised that the Palestinians would join the peace effort at the appropriate time. He also said that Iran is suffering with its economy in shambles and that it too desires an agreement. But “I said, ‘Wait until after the elections’,” Trump added.
In addition to bilateral agreements signed by Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, all three signed a document dubbed the “Abraham Accords” after the patriarch of the world’s three major monotheistic religions.
The “Abraham Accords” and the bilateral agreement signed by Israel and Bahrain fell short of more detailed formal treaties that are the diplomatic norm. Both documents were made up of general statements pledging to advance diplomacy, mutual cooperation and regional peace.
Trump used the historic momentum of the day to go beyond US hesitation and Israeli objections about selling F-35 fighters to the UAE, declaring earlier in the day that he had “no problem” with the sale.
“I would have no problem in selling them the F-35, I would have absolutely no problem,” Trump told Fox News in an interview, noting that this would secure “tremendous jobs at home.”
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Tuesday that the purchase is part of his country’s effort to modernise its military and that its request for US F-35 warplanes had been under discussion before the normalisation agreement with Israel.
The signing of the peace agreement also constituted a rare moment of bipartisan consensus in Washington. “It is good to see others in the Middle East recognising Israel and even welcoming it as a partner,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said in a statement released Wednesday night. “A Biden-Harris Administration will build on these steps, challenge other nations to keep pace, and work to leverage these growing ties into progress toward a two-state solution and a more stable, peaceful region.”