UPDATED, with reaction: Cable networks turned to footage from the Oval Office on Thursday morning for a surprise announcement from Donald Trump: a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
“Just a few moments ago I hosted a very special call with two friends, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates where they agreed to finalize a historical peace agreement,” Trump said. “Everybody said this would be impossible.”
He said that the two countries would fully normalize diplomatic relations.
“Not since the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed more than 25 years ago has so much progress been made toward peace in the Middle East,” Trump said.
Trump said that he expected that more Arab and Muslim countries would follow the UAE’s lead.
In a joint statement, the United States, Israel and the UAE said that delegations from Israel and the UAE would meet in the coming months to sign the agreements. Israel will suspend settlements on the West Bank “and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.”
In the Oval Office, Trump told reporters gathered that he wanted the peace agreement to be called “the Donald J. Trump accord,” but it will instead be named the Abraham Accord.
Haim Saban, who has been a prominent Democratic donor and is the founder of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, praised the development as a breakthrough.
“For me, the safety and the security of Israel is always front of mind, and this historic peace agreement is a critical achievement,” Saban said in a statement. “As someone who has been speaking for years with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed and Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba about the importance of normalizing relations with Israel, I applaud them for taking the crucial steps forward to reach this deal. I am hopeful that this breakthrough will help increase the prospects of future agreements between Israel and others in the region.”
Trump’s rival, Joe Biden, also praised the accord, but said that the peace deal built on efforts of past administrations.
“The UAE’s offer to publicly recognize the State of Israel is a welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship. And it is a critical recognition that Israel is a vibrant, integral part of the Middle East that is here to stay,” Biden said. “Israel can and will be a valued strategic and economic partner to all who welcome it.”
He added, “The coming together of Israel and Arab states builds on the efforts of multiple administrations to foster a broader Arab-Israeli opening, including the efforts of the Obama-Biden administration to build on the Arab Peace Initiative.”
The full statement is below.
President Donald J. Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates spoke today and agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement.
Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit. Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations.
As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal.
The United Arab Emirates and Israel will immediately expand and accelerate cooperation regarding the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. Working together, these efforts will help save Muslim, Jewish, and Christian lives throughout the region.
This normalization of relations and peaceful diplomacy will bring together two of America’s most reliable and capable regional partners. Israel and the United Arab Emirates will join with the United States to launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation. Along with the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement, increased economic integration, and closer security coordination. Today’s agreement will lead to better lives for the peoples of the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and the region.
The United States and Israel recall with gratitude the appearance of the United Arab Emirates at the White House reception held on January 28, 2020, at which President Trump presented his Vision for Peace, and express their appreciation for United Arab Emirates’ related supportive statements. The parties will continue their efforts in this regard to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As set forth in the Vision for Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan express their deep appreciation to President Trump for his dedication to peace in the region and to the pragmatic and unique approach he has taken to achieve it.
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