On Tuesday, President Trump heralded the “beginning of a new Middle East” as he hosted regional leaders for the signing of the “Abraham Accords” that normalized relations between Israel and two Arab countries.
The foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House South Lawn to reaffirm their recent recognition of Israel’s statehood.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are the third and fourth Arab countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. The breakthrough also established direct commercial flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
“We are here this afternoon to change the course of history,”
“Throughout Israel’s history, there have been only two such agreements in the past. Now we have achieved two in a single month. And there is more to follow, ”Trump said.
“These agreements will serve as the basis for a comprehensive peace throughout the region, something that no one thought was possible.”
Netanyahu said, “I am grateful to you, President Trump, for your decisive leadership … you have successfully conveyed the historic peace that we are signing today – a peace that has broad support in Israel and in America. [and] in the Middle East. ”
The Israeli leader said that “history has taught us that strength brings security, strength brings allies, and ultimately – and this is something that President Trump has said over and over again – ultimately brings strength peace.”
After addressing the spectators from the balcony of the White House, the four leaders sat at desks on the lawn to sign the agreement with national flags arranged behind them.
In addition to the bilateral agreements signed by Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, all three sign a document called the “Abraham Agreements” after the patriarch of the world’s three largest monotheistic religions.
“This day is a turning point in history,” Netanyahu said. “It heralds a new dawn of peace.”
Speaking to reporters before the signing of the document, Trump said: “We are very far down with about five countries – another five countries.”
The development is an important achievement for Trump, and even his Democratic presidential challenger, Joe Biden, praised the historic recognitions as “something positive.” In a Tuesday morning interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump predicted that the Palestinians would eventually make a deal as well.
“We have a lot of others coming in over a short period of time, and the Palestinians will eventually come in, too,” Trump said.
A Norwegian official nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize last week for his role in the UAE-Israel agreement before Bahrain took office.
Trump often credits himself with wiping out decades of disputes over Israel, which he said introduced new realism into the protracted conflict.
As president, Trump moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, bringing down aid to the Palestinians and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a mountainous area seized from Syria in 1967 after being used to protect Israeli territory.
The Middle East peace effort is led by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who is Jewish and married to Ivanka Trump.
As part of the US-mediated normalization of economic relations this month between Serbia and Kosovo, the Muslim majority Kosovo also agreed to recognize Israel. Serbia agreed to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Egypt was the first Arab country to recognize Israel in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994.
Ahead of the ceremonial event on Tuesday, Trump met privately with Bahraini and UAE diplomats and with Netanyahu. He gave the Israeli leader a golden key, which he said was a “key to the White House” and said he expected a “very fair” agreement between the United States and Iran after the election.
Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, one of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress, told The Post that he attributes the new deal in part to common concern over “Iranian aggression” and the fact that the Trump administration “made it very clear to these Arab countries are the highest priority for the United States to strengthen relations with Israel. “
Last week on the anniversary of 9/11, Trump linked diplomatic developments with his downsizing of US troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
“The sand was full of blood. And now you will see that much of that sand will be filled with peace, ”Trump said.