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Trump hosts Arab, Israeli leaders to ink historic deal: ‘A new Middle East’

Trump hosts Arab, Israeli leaders to ink historic deal: ‘A new Middle East’

President Trump on Tuesday heralded “the dawn of a new Middle East” as he hosted regional leaders for the signing of the “Abraham Accords” normalizing relations between Israel and two Arab countries.

The foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the White House South Lawn to affirm their recent recognition of Israel’s statehood.

Bahrain and the UAE are the third and fourth Arab countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. The breakthrough also established direct commercial flights between Israel and the UAE.

“After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said in a speech to an audience on the lawn.

“In Israel’s entire history there have previously been only two such agreements. Now we have achieved two in a single month. And there are more to follow,” Trump said.

“These agreements will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region, something which nobody thought was possible.”

Speaking to reporters before the document signing, Trump said “we’re very far down the road with about five countries — five additional countries.”

The developments are a major 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 Palestinians ultimately would make a deal as well.

“We have many others going to be coming in over a short period of time, and the Palestinians will ultimately come in, too,” Trump said.

A Norwegian official nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize last week for his role in the UAE-Israel deal, before Bahrain joined.

Trump often credits himself with wiping aside decades of disputes regarding Israel, which he said introduced new realism into the long-running conflict.

As president, Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, throttled aid to Palestinians and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a mountainous area seized from Syria in 1967 after it was used to shell Israeli areas.

Mideast peace efforts are led by Trump’s son-in-law an adviser Jared Kushner, who is Jewish and married to Ivanka Trump.

As part of the US-brokered 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 the Bahraini and UAE diplomats and with Netanyahu. He presented the Israeli leader with a golden key that he said was a “key to the White House” and said he anticipated a “very fair” US-Iran deal after the election.

New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, one of just two Jewish Republicans in Congress, told The Post he attributes the accords to shared concern among Arabs and Israel “with Iranian aggression” and the fact that the Trump administration “made very clear to these Arab countries it is the highest priority to the United States to strengthen the relationship with Israel.”

Last week on the anniversary of 9/11, Trump linked the diplomatic developments with his drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

“The sand was loaded up with blood. And now you’re going to see that a lot of that said is going to be loaded up with peace,” Trump said.

Published at Tue, 15 Sep 2020 17:42:40 +0000