President Donald Trump made the announcement to reporters gathered for the historic signing of peace accords at the White House this week.
The President declared a “dawn of a new Middle East” as he presided over the signing of two historic Middle East diplomatic deals between the three nations
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” he said at the ceremony in the South Lawn of the White House.
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The deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and Israel and Bahrain, involve the exchanging of ambassadors, establishment of embassies and co-operation on a range of fronts — including trade, security and tourism. The agreements, known as the “Abraham Accords” also allow Muslims to visit Islamic holy sites in Israel. Trump said the deals would form “the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”
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“We have many other countries going to be joining us, and they’re going to be joining us soon. We’ll have I think seven or eight or nine. We’re going to have a lot of other countries joining us, including the big ones. We already have the big one, but including the big ones,” Trump said.
Forty-four countries, including thirty members of the United Nations, do not recognize Israel as a nation. Trump did not disclose which countries are in the peace deal pipeline, but mentioned that he has spoken to the king of Saudi Arabia.
“At the right time, I do think they will come in,” Trump said. “This is a very big and very historic moment, and I think everyone agrees to that. But we’ll have other countries coming in fairly rapidly.”
The bilateral agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain formalize the normalization of Israel’s relations with the two nations in line with their common opposition to Iran. The United Arab Emirates became only the third—after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994—to fully normalize relations with Israel. Sixteen of the 22 members of the Arab League, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, do not recognize Israel.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to approve bilateral agreements on 15 areas of mutual interest, including finance, trade, aviation, energy, telecommunications, health, agriculture, and water.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Trump said from a balcony overlooking the South Lawn on Sept. 15. “After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”
Other Arab countries believed to be close to recognizing Israel include Oman, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. On the outside chances are Iran and Lebanon. Iran previously had close relations with Israel before the Islamic revolution. Iranians are ethnically Persian, not Arab, and younger Iranians are more open to peace and prosperity rather than conflict. Lebanon, which is under the vice of Hezbollah, was once considered the Riviera of the Middle East before Iranian influence and civil war tore the nation apart. With a fairly large Christian community, the country could move towards peace as it rebuilds from a horrific blast that Lebanese citizens are blaming on Hezbollah and its close relation to the government.
“We are very down the road with about five different countries,” Trump told reporters before the ceremony.
Republicans see the peace deal as a boost for the president ahead of the election. Since the 2016 campaign, Democrats and the media have told voters that Trump would destroy peace efforts in the Middle East. The criticism increased after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol and moved the U.S. Embassy there.
But with Trump having now having doubled the number of Arab states that have signed a peace treaty with Israel, it is difficult for Democrats to paint that false narrative that the Trump administration was bad for peace. Any American could easily turn on the television on Tuesday and see the results of Trump’s peace efforts.
Democrats, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, are now saying they support the deal though few were willing to speak on camera.
A few House Democrats attended the signing of the peace deal, a notable development at a time when their leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is barely on speaking terms with the president.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), said she accepted the invitation immediately on receiving it over the weekend.
“It definitely was a monumental event, and the ceremony was very fitting for that,” Luria, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a telephone interview.
Trump has been nominated twice in the past two weeks for the Nobel Peace Prize. Once for his work on peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors and a second time for the recent accords between Serbia and Kosovo, which ended one of Europe’s last hot spots for potential conflict.