Israel formally signed historic deals Tuesday to normalize diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain during a White House ceremony presided over by US President Donald Trump.
Ahead of the signing of what has been dubbed the “Abraham Accords,” Trump said the agreements would end “decades of division and conflict” in the region, and usher in the “dawn of a new Middle East.”
“Thanks to the courage of the leaders of these three countries we take a major stride toward a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity,” Trump said addressing hundreds of guests assembled for the event in the South Lawn.
“Together these agreements will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region,” he added as Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Bahrain’s top diplomat, Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani looked on.
Prior to the ceremony, Trump said five nations are “very far down the road” to normalizing relations with Israel. He did not elaborate on who but Netanyahu said Trump is “lining up more and more countries.”
“This was unimaginable a few years ago, but with resolve, determination, a fresh look at the way peace is done, this is being achieved,” the Israeli leader said to cheers from the crowd.
Bahrain became the fourth Arab country to establish diplomatic relations with Israel last Friday after Egypt in 1979, Jordan in 1994 and the UAE in August.
In addition to the bilateral agreements signed between Israel and the Arab nations all three and the US signed the mutual pact Trump and his administration call the Abraham Accords.
Alzayani described the agreements as an “important first step” toward establishing greater peace in the region. It is a “just, comprehensive and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be the foundation, the bedrock of such peace,” he said.
“We have shown today that such a path is possible, even realistic,” said Alzayani. “What was only dreamed of a few years ago is now achievable, and we can see before us a golden opportunity for peace, security and prosperity for our region.”
Outside the White House, pro-Palestinian activists held demonstrations opposed to the accords. The normalization deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians who say such agreements do not serve the Palestinian cause and ignore their rights.
The Palestinian Authority said any deal with Israel should be based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative on the principle of “land for peace” and not “peace for peace” as Israel maintains.