WASHINGTON, PALESTINOW.COM — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain have signed agreements to normalise relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran.
United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday hosted a White House ceremony capping a dramatic month when first the UAE and then Bahrain agreed to normalise ties without a resolution of Israel’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians, who have condemned the agreements.
At the US-brokered event, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani.
The deals make them the third and fourth Arab states to take such steps to normalise ties since Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
“The people of the Middle East will no longer allow hatred of Israel to be fomented as an excuse for radicalism or extremism,” Trump said at the White House ceremony.
“And they’ll no longer allow the great destiny of their region to be denied.”
“This peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states. And ultimately, it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict, once and for all,” Netanyahu said.
Ammar Hijazi, assistant minister of multilateral affairs for the Palestinian Authority, said the signing of the accords was “a sad day”.
“The only path for peace for the Palestinians is ending this brutal Israeli occupation and granting the Palestinians their inalienable rights for self-determination. Without that there is no path to peace in the region,” Hijazi told Al Jazeera.
Hijazi called the White House signing ceremony a “photo op” that “only crowns Israel as the policeman of the region” and paves the way for more US weapons sales to the region.
The back-to-back agreements mark an improbable diplomatic victory for Trump. He has spent his presidency forecasting deals on such intractable problems as North Korea’s nuclear programme only to find actual achievements elusive.
Bringing Israel, the UAE and Bahrain together may be their shared concern about Iran’s rising influence in the region and development of ballistic missiles. Iran has been critical of both deals. Fellow Gulf state Qatar has ruled out normalising ties with Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.
With Trump up for re-election on November 3, the accords could help shore up support among pro-Israel Christian evangelical voters in the US, an important part of his political base.