Washington, Sep 15 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that “five more countries” will soon establish diplomatic ties with Israel, his remarks coming shortly before he participated in a White House ceremony where the Israeli government signed the so-called Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
“HISTORIC day for PEACE in the Middle East,” Trump had tweeted, touting the imminent completion of “landmark deals that no one thought was possible,” and adding “MORE countries to follow!”
The US president clearly hopes that Arab nations’ recognition of the Jewish state will help his reelection chances in the November election.
On Tuesday morning, Trump held a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that there were “a lot” of nations ready to follow the lead of the UAE and Bahrain and that talks were at an advanced stage with “five” countries, which he did not name.
The Abraham Accords constitute a clear reorientation of the longstanding diplomatic impasse where Arab countries generally have stayed united against Israel over its treatment of the stateless Palestinians on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and the signing ceremony is the first time that Arab nations have established diplomatic relations with Israel since Egypt did so in 1979 and Jordan followed suit in 1994.
Both those nations share land borders with the Jewish state, and Israel conquered a significant portion of each of their territories in past wars, namely the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip in Egypt’s case and the West Bank in Jordan’s. Israel also took over the Golan Heights from Syria, but Damascus has made no move to normalize bilateral relations.
Trump met with the Israeli premier shortly before presiding at the White House signing ceremony. The agreements to normalize relations mediated by Washington had been announced in recent weeks.
The US leader insisted that the current pacts will open the door to more countries formalizing their ties with Israel.
At the White House, Trump predicted that the Palestinians ultimately will also have a peace agreement with Israel, adding that his administration was discussing such an accord with them.
Trump said at the White House that “we’ve been given very strong signals” that Palestinian authorities want to “join” the pacts between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.
The president also met separately with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan and with Bahrain’s foreign minister, Abdulatif bin Rashid al Zayani, who came to the White House to participate in the signing ceremony on behalf of their nations.
It was announced on Aug. 13 that Israel and the UAE had taken the first steps to normalize their relations, and since then the issues of cooperation on medical care and defense had been worked out in a series of telephone calls, along with arranging the first commercial flight (to Abu Dhabi) between the two countries in late August.
Meanwhile, last Friday Bahrain announced that it was joining the initiative pushed by the US to bring other Arab nations on board to work out peace agreements and establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
Not only do the UAE and Bahrain hope to reap economic and trade rewards from their new ties with Israel, but they are also seeking to shore up their defensive capabilities vis-a-vis Iran, located across the Persian Gulf. EFE