The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, represented in Washington by their foreign ministers, are set to become the third and the fourth Arab countries to normalise relations with Israel after Egypt did so in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
US President Donald Trump has stated that five or six countries could reach similar diplomatic deals with Israel in the future.
“We’re very far down the road with five additional countries”, Trump said, as quoted in a White House pool report. Moreover, Trump said his administration is currently talking to the Palestinians.
“This can lead to peace, real peace, in the Middle East. You can have peace without blood in the sand”, Trump stated in the Oval Office as he greeted Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the brother of Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince.
Trump made his remarks ahead of the signing of historic diplomatic deals between Israel and two Gulf Arab nations that could herald a considerable change in Middle East power dynamics.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Bahrain’s delegation led by Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani have already arrived at the White House ahead of the signing ceremony.
On 11 September, Israel and Bahrain agreed to normalise relations. The two countries decided to establish diplomatic ties a month after a similar landmark deal was brokered by the United States between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which, among other things, required Israel to give up its plans to extend sovereignty over parts of the West Bank. Bahrain then became the fourth Arab country to recognise Israel. The first two were Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the US peace initiatives as biased in favour of Israel and criticised the UAE and Bahrain for eroding the common Arab position, which offered normalisation to Israel as a reward for withdrawing from the “occupied territories.”
US President Trump Participates in Israel-UAE-Bahrain Deal-Signing Ceremony at White House
In August, Israel and the UAE agreed to normalise bilateral relations, which, among other things, entailed Israel giving up its plans to expand sovereignty over some West Bank areas. Nearly a month later, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa officially announced a similar treaty in a trilateral phone conversation with Trump and Netanyahu.
A live broadcast shows US President Donald Trump taking part in a signing ceremony for peace agreements normalising relations between Israel on the one side and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on the other at the presidential residence in Washington, D.C.
At the ceremony, the UAE and Bahrain will officially reconcile with Israel, settling the US-brokered agreements that circumvented the Palestinian issue while allowing a rapprochement between the Jewish state and its neighbouring countries. US President Donald Trump will hold a working lunch with all three delegations after the signing ceremony.
The UAE and Bahrain will be the third and fourth Arab countries to recognise Israel after Egypt and Jordan did so in 1979 and 1994, respectively.
Trump Says He ‘Would Have No Problem’ With Selling US Weapons, Including F-35s, to Gulf States
Until now, the US has had a policy of not selling advanced weapons to the Gulf countries that could undermine the military edge of its long-term ally Israel in the region.
US President Donald Trump has stated that he would have no issue with selling modern US-made weapons to the Gulf countries, instead of selling them exclusively to Israel in the region. His statement comes in the wake of Israel striking two peace deals with Gulf countries, the UAE and Bahrain, in a matter of weeks, purportedly clearing the way for Abu Dhabi’s long-cherished desire to buy F-35 fighters, EA-18G Growler jets, and Reaper drones.
“They’re very wealthy countries for the most part. I personally would have no problem with it. Some people do, they say […] maybe they go to war”, Trump said.
POTUS went on to clarify that he is specifically ready to sell the latest fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, the F-35, noting that such an opportunity would mean “tremendous jobs at home”. Speaking about the Arab World, the president added on a side note that he had “had a shot” at “taking out” Syrian President Bashar Assad, but chose not to do so due to opposition to the move from then Defence Secretary James Mattis.
Pelosi Raises Concerns Regarding F-35 Sale, Israel’s Peace Deal With UAE
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later commented on the idea of selling F-35 fighter jets to the Gulf states, specifically to the UAE, noting that the Congress would want to evaluate the consequences of a possible sale. She namely stressed that the Congress would want to ensure that Israel retains its military edge in the Middle East after such a sale.
“As we learn more about the full details of both agreements, questions remain […] The US Congress, on a bipartisan basis, will be watching and monitoring to ensure that Israel can maintain its qualitative military edge in the region”, Pelosi said. The speaker went on to comment on the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, which is set to be signed later on Tuesday, noting that it’s “critically important” to understand the details of Tel Aviv’s vow to suspend the extension of its sovereignty over certain areas of the West Bank.
Historic Peace Accords to Be Signed in Washington
Trump’s remarks regarding the possible sale of weapons come ahead of a historic ceremony for the signing of peace accords between the UAE and Bahrain on the one side and Israel on the other. The three are to sign the agreements later in the day in Washington, after Trump helped the two Arab nations and Tel Aviv reach common ground to normalise their relations. The UAE and Bahrain became the third and the forth Arab countries respectively to normalise relations with Israel and the first two to do so among the Gulf countries. The signing ceremony will also be attended by a representative of another Gulf state, Oman.
Following the announcement of the deal between the UAE and Israel, conflicting reports emerged suggesting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had both opposed the sale of American weapons to Abu Dhabi and silently approved of it.
Netanyahu himself has denied the reports about weapons sales being part of Israel’s deal with Abu Dhabi.