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Trump hosts Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House signing ceremony

WASHINGTON – Proclaiming that “there will be peace in the Middle East”, President Trump hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in the White House on Tuesday for the formal signing of new diplomatic agreements between them .

The ceremony took place in the White House’s South Lawn, marking a deal that became a focal point of the president’s foreign policy message in the final weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Although the details remain unknown, the agreements, known as the Abraham Agreements, will normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE. and Bahrain, including the establishment of the first embassies in their respective countries. Israel and the UAE recently announced the start of the first commercial flights between them. Until now, Israel had normal relations only with two other Arab states, Jordan and Egypt.

The staging of the event seemed designed to recall the scene 25 years ago in the same place, when President Bill Clinton brokered a deal – and an iconic handshake – between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasir. Arafat.

But many analysts in the region, while giving Trump credit for helping broker the deal – work led by his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner – called the peace speech exaggerated. They note that Israel has long since entered into a de facto alliance with the Sunni Arab states of the Persian Gulf, largely in common cause against Shiite Iran.

“It’s not conflict resolution and it’s not peace – this is business,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, chairman of J Street, a pro-Israel liberal advocacy group highly critical of Netanyahu. “It is very, very clear that there are aligned interests between Israel and these countries – military, security, diplomatic, economic – and those interests have existed for two decades.”

“This formalizes it, but it shouldn’t be exaggerated in resolving a fundamental conflict for Israel with its neighbors,” he added. Israel’s decades-long conflict with the Palestinians, he said, “remains unsolved with this agreement.”

Meeting Mr. Netanyahu in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump presented Mr. Netanyahu with a large gold key set in a wooden box which he described as “a key to the White House, a key to our country”.

“You have the key to the hearts of the people of Israel,” Netanyahu replied.

“This is bloodless Middle East peace all over the sand,” added Trump.

Speaking on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump bragged that Tuesday’s event was just the start of bigger things to come.

“We have many more that will arrive in a short period of time,” said Trump, “And eventually the Palestinians will also arrive. You will have peace in the Middle East.”

But during the ceremony on Tuesday, the Palestinians seemed like an afterthought, which was not mentioned in official remarks from Trump and Netanyahu.

Palestinian leaders, however, show no sign of reconsidering their categorical refusal to negotiate with Israel as part of a Trump’s White House peace plan released in January.

Mr. Trump also said on Fox that he “would have absolutely no problem” selling the F-35 fighter in the UAE, a step the Trump administration is considering despite objections in Israel to the sale of advanced military hardware. to an Arab state.

Trump officials deny that such a sale was a condition for the Emirates to conclude the deal with Israel.

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