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Trump presides as Israel, UAE and Bahrain sign historic pacts

By: AP | Washington |

September 15, 2020 11:36:54 pm

Bahrain’s Overseas Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Overseas Minister Abdullah bin Zayed take part within the signing of the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and a few of its Center East neighbors on the South Garden of the White Home (REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

Declaring “the daybreak of a brand new Center East,” President Donald Trump on Tuesday presided over the signing of historic diplomatic pacts between Israel and two Gulf Arab nations that he hopes will result in a brand new order within the Mideast and forged him as a peacemaker on the peak of his reelection marketing campaign.

A whole lot of individuals amassed on the sun-washed South Garden to witness the signing of agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The bilateral agreements formalize the normalization of the Jewish state’s already thawing relations with the 2 Arab nations in keeping with their frequent opposition to Iran and its aggression within the area.

“We’re right here this afternoon to alter the course of historical past,” Trump mentioned from a balcony overlooking the South Garden. “After many years of division and battle, we mark the daybreak of a brand new Center East.”

The agreements don’t deal with the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian battle. Whereas the UAE, Bahrain and different Arab international locations assist the Palestinians, the Trump administration has persuaded the 2 international locations to not let that battle hold them from having regular relations with Israel.

Trump’s political backers are searching for the agreements to spice up his standing as a statesman with simply seven weeks to go earlier than Election Day. Till now, overseas coverage has not had a serious position in a marketing campaign dominated by the coronavirus, racial points and the economic system. The pandemic was within the backdrop of the White Home ceremony, the place there was no social distancing and most company didn’t put on masks.

The agreements received’t finish energetic wars, however supporters consider they might pave the way in which for a broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement after many years of enmity and solely two earlier peace offers.

Skeptics, together with many longtime Mideast analysts and former officers, have expressed doubts about their impression and lamented that they ignore the Palestinians, who’ve rejected them as a stab within the again by fellow Arabs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that Israel has solely suspended its plans to annex West Financial institution settlements.

But even the harshest critics have allowed that the agreements might usher in a serious shift within the area ought to different Arab nations, notably Saudi Arabia, observe go well with, with implications for Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Different Arab international locations believed to be near recognizing Israel embody Oman, Sudan and Morocco.

“We’re very down the street with about 5 completely different international locations,” Trump informed reporters earlier than the ceremony. Along with the bilateral agreements signed by Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, all three are signing a doc dubbed the “Abraham Accords” after the patriarch of the world’s three main monotheistic religions.

The Palestinians haven’t embraced the US imaginative and prescient. Palestinian activists held small demonstrations on Tuesday within the West Financial institution and in Gaza, the place they trampled and set hearth to footage of Trump, Netanyahu and the leaders of the UAE and Bahrain.

A ballot launched on Tuesday discovered that 86 per cent of Palestinians consider the normalization settlement with the UAE serves solely Israel’s pursuits and never their very own. The ballot, carried out by the Palestinian Heart for Coverage and Survey Analysis, was carried out Sept. 9-12 and surveyed 1,270 Palestinians within the occupied West Financial institution and Gaza. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three proportion factors.

Even in Israel, the place the accords have obtained widespread acclaim, there’s concern they may end in US gross sales of refined weaponry to the UAE and Bahrain, thus doubtlessly upsetting Israel’s qualitative army edge within the area.

“They’re very rich international locations for essentially the most half … some are terribly, like UAE,” Trump informed ‘Fox & Associates’ in an interview earlier than the ceremony. “And so they want to purchase some fighter jets and I personally would don’t have any downside with it.”

In the meantime, a politically weak Netanyahu is dealing with questions on showing at such a big occasion simply days after he introduced a brand new nationwide lockdown to battle a surge in coronavirus circumstances that may impose extreme restrictions on motion and gatherings.

And whereas the UAE and Bahrain have a historical past of suppressing dissent and important public opinion, there have been indications that the agreements should not practically as well-liked or well-received as in Israel. Neither nation despatched its head of state or authorities to signal the offers with Netanyahu.

Bahrain’s largest Shiite-dominated opposition group, Al-Wefaq, which the federal government ordered dissolved in 2016 amid a yearslong crackdown on dissent, mentioned there’s widespread rejection of normalization.

Al-Wefaq mentioned in an announcement that it joins different Bahrainis who reject the settlement to normalize ties with the “Zionist entity,” and criticized the federal government for crushing the general public’s potential to specific opinions “to obscure the extent of discontent” at normalization.

The ceremony follows months of intricate diplomacy headed by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and the president’s envoy for worldwide negotiations, Avi Berkowitz.

On August 13, the Israel-UAE deal was introduced. That was adopted by the primary direct industrial flight between the international locations, after which the Sept. 11 announcement of the Bahrain-Israel settlement.

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