President Trump on Tuesday declared the “dawn of a new Middle East” as he presided over the signing of two historic Middle East diplomatic deals between Israel and two Gulf nations.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” he said at the ceremony in the South Lawn of the White House.
“Thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries, we take a major stride toward a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity,” he said.
The deals, known as the “Abraham Accords,” involve the exchanging of ambassadors, establishment of embassies and co-operation on a range of fronts, including trade, security and tourism. The deals also allow Muslims to visit Islamic holy sites in Israel. Trump said the deals would form “the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”
Earlier in the Oval Office, Trump said “we’re very far down the road with about five additional countries.” He declined to name the countries he is speaking with and later said it could be “five or six” other countries.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will sign the deals, which mark the normalization of relations, with the foreign ministers of both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The UAE deal was announced last month, with the Bahrain deal announced on Friday. They have been dubbed the “Abraham Accords.”
Netanyahu rejected the idea that Israel was isolated in the region and declared that “we’re breaking out to the entire world.”
While critics have noted that such deals ignore Palestinians and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is hoped that the deals would be the start of warmer Arab-Israeli relations.
Trump told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday morning that other countries “want to come in” and that he believes the Palestinians will eventually come in too.
“You’re going to have peace in the Middle East,” Trump said, adding that countries including Iran were “actually getting to a point where they’re going to want to make a deal. They won’t say that outwardly. They want to make a deal.”
Israel, Bahrain and the UAE are expected to sign a trilateral document, in addition to the bilateral agreements. Trump is expected to sign on as a witness.
Democrats have given some support to the agreements, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying in a statement that it marked “an important day” but said that “questions remain” including about a commitment for the UAE to purchase F-35 jets — which has led to fears it could blunt Israel’s military superiority in the region.
“As we learn more about the full details of both agreements, questions remain – specifically, regarding the commitment that the UAE has received from the Trump Administration to purchase American-made F-35 aircraft. The U.S. Congress, on a bipartisan basis, will be watching and monitoring to ensure that Israel can maintain its qualitative military edge in the region.
“It is also critically important that we fully understand the agreements’ details regarding the announced freeze of efforts by Israel to annex portions of the West Bank,” she said.
By Adam Shaw
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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