Wednesday, 21 Oct 2020 - 3 of Heshvan, 5781
USA

U.S. President Donald Trump hosts Tuesday afternoon UAE-Bahrein-Israel signing ceremony of normalization accords

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The Trump administration has invited senior Democratic leaders to attend the event. A senior administration official told reporters yesterday that although some Democratic lawmakers have said they are unable to attend, the White House expects “a nice amount” of Democrats to show up.  

The Trump administration is reportedly pushing Sudan to be next in line to normalize relations with Israel. In a tweet, Trump said: “We’re not finished yet. All coming together like a highly complex, but beautiful, puzzle!” A senior administration official said the team headed by Kushner has “spent a lot of time working on” other countries to follow the UAE’s lead and “we are feeling good about some other conversations as well.”

U.S. President Donald Trump hosts Tuesday afternoon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani for a historic signing ceremony of the normalization agreements at the White House. Trump will meet with Netanyahu in the Oval Office ahead of the event. 

More than 700 attendees are expected to be on hand for the ceremony despite the ongoing pandemic. In invitations to guests, the White House encouraged attendees to wear face coverings for the outdoor event, but a senior administration official said “ultimately it’s their choice.” The official added that everyone entering the White House itself will be tested for COVID-19.

The Trump administration has invited senior Democratic leaders to attend the event. A senior administration official told reporters yesterday that although some Democratic lawmakers have said they are unable to attend, the White House expects “a nice amount” of Democrats to show up.

Jake Sullivan, a foreign policy advisor to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, called the deal a “positive accomplishment” for Trump’s foreign policy. “It’s good for the region, it’s good for Israel, it’s good for peace.”

On Friday, the White House announced that Bahrain is joining the United Arab Emirates in normalising relations with Israel.

President Donald Trump hosted a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa where both leaders agreed the move. Netanyahu described the call as “a very warm conversation in which we agreed on the establishment of peaceful relations between Bahrain and Israel – the official establishment of peace with full diplomatic relations and with all that entails”.

King Al-Khalifa told Trump and Netanyahu that a “just and comprehensive peace” between Israel and the Palestinians must be achieved and should be based on the two-state solution and UN resolutions.

At the cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said: “We now have two historic peace agreements, with two Arab countries, which were established in one month. I am certain that we all welcome the new era.’’

He promised that ‘’it will be a warm peace, economic peace in addition to the diplomatic peace, also peace between peoples.”

On Friday, the White House announced that Bahrain is joining the United Arab Emirates in normalising relations with Israel.

Similar to the UAE-Israel agreement, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah was very critical of the announcement and of the Bahraini monarchy. Both Fatah and Hamas have called for Palestinians to hold a “day of popular rejection” tomorrow.

Netanyahu is the only Israel politician who travelling to Washington. He is accompanied by the head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen.

The UAE and Bahrain will be represented by their respective foreign ministers, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani. At the signing ceremony, Israel and Bahrain will sign “a declaration of peace”.

Israelis are encouraged that other countries will join in normalising ties after Bahrain decided to follow the UAE so quickly.

Bahrain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, who are understood to have given their approval for the move. It remains to be seen if the Saudi Ambassador will attend the White House ceremony.

Both the UAE and Bahrain share Israeli concerns over Iranian aggression and its nuclear programme. In 2016, Bahrain led the Gulf Cooperation Council declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organisation. In August, Manama said it foiled two attempts to smuggle explosives from Iran, with Hezbollah believed to be behind the operation.

Bahrain has been the most open Arab country toward Israel over the last several years. In 2019, it hosted the Manama conference which launched the economic part of Trump’s peace plan.

The announcement was also welcomed by Oman, who does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

This is another success for US diplomacy. President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Manama, the capital of Bahrain, in August and asked the king and crown prince to normalise relations with Israel.

The agreement with the UAE is expected to be defined as a “peace treaty” and will cover cooperation in range of fields, including finance, health, cyber-security, culture and tourism, space, science and investments, innovation and trade, as well as full diplomatic relations. The agreement will then need to be ratified by the Knesset, which should be a formality as it enjoys widespread support.

Netanyahu and Trump are expected to discuss how to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge with the US looking to sell F-35s and other advanced security equipment to the UAE.

President Trump is to meet with Netanyahu in the Oval Office ahead of the signing ceremony.

The Trump administration is reportedly pushing Sudan to be next in line to normalize relations with Israel. In a tweet, Trump said: “We’re not finished yet. All coming together like a highly complex, but beautiful, puzzle!” A senior administration official said the team headed by Kushner has “spent a lot of time working on” other countries to follow the UAE’s lead and “we are feeling good about some other conversations as well.”

In Foreign Policy, Maysam Behravesh and Hamidreza Azizi note that these new deals are a “strategic nightmare” for Iran. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens called the accords a direct challenge to “a half-century’s worth of conventional wisdom.” In The Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead posited that the changes in the region “are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.” Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley write in Politico that the deals could “preserve at least a slim hope of an eventual two-state solution.”

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