Trump to preside over historic Arab-Israel recognition deals

Elias Hubbard
September 15, 2020

Frustrated by the Palestinians' refusal to take part in Trump's Middle East peace initiative, the White House has sought to bypass them in hopes they will see the deals with the UAE and Bahrain as incentives, even leverage, for peace talks. The bilateral agreements formalize the normalization of the Jewish state's already thawing relations with the two Arab nations in line with their common opposition to Iran and its aggression in the region.

While the pageantry of the White House signing ceremony offers Trump and Netanyahu a political triumph, Prince Mohammed faces neither reelection pressures nor protests at home.

US President Donald Trump was to meet in turn with the Israeli leader, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, before a signing ceremony for the US-brokered peace deal.

The signing will formally establish diplomatic ties between an Arab country and Israel for the first time since 1994, when Jordan normalized relations.

The agreements do not address the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump said last week that Bahrain had also reached a diplomatic deal with Israel.

Trump's political backers are looking for the agreements to boost his standing as a statesman with just seven weeks to go before Election Day.

These remarks came in parallel with the declaration of the Israeli Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen on Sunday evening that other states are making deals with Israel. For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a US president will host a signing ceremony between Israelis and Arabs at the White House, billing it as an "historic breakthrough" in a region long known for its stubborn conflicts.

Palestinian leaders have condemned both deals. Skeptics, including many longtime Mideast analysts and former officials, have expressed doubts about their impact and lamented that they ignore the Palestinians, who have rejected them as a stab in the back by fellow Arabs.

The Palestinian leadership, which has long accused Trump of pro-Israel bias, has denounced the Arab rapprochement with Israel as a betrayal of their cause, even though Netanyahu agreed, in return for normalization with the UAE, to suspend a plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

In a White House ceremony aimed at showcasing presidential statesmanship, Trump will host more than 700 guests on Tuesday on the South Lawn to witness the sealing of the agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.

"You're going to have peace in the Middle East", Trump said, adding that countries including Iran were "actually getting to a point where they're going to want to make a deal". Trump did not name the countries he is negotiating with - but they could include Oman, Sudan, Morocco and others.

"The ultimate piece is it's good for us to have, and it's good for Israel", he said.

A senior Trump administration official said that Israel would sign separate agreements with each of the Gulf states and that then the U.S. would join all three in signing a common document known as the Abraham Accords.

The Palestinians have not embraced the US vision.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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