Trump said he expects more countries to “follow the direction of the UAE.”
President Donald Trump said in a surprise announcement Thursday that Israel and the UAE had agreed to normalize relations and that, as part of the deal, Israel would not annex parts of the West Bank currently occupying.
“Israel and the UAE will fully normalize their diplomatic relations,”; said Trump, surrounded by aides in the Oval Office. “They will exchange embassies and ambassadors and begin co-operation across the board and in a wide range of areas, including tourism, education, healthcare, trade and security.”
In a joint statement, Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said “historic diplomatic progress will advance peace in the Middle East region.” .
Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates “will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements on investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, environment, establishment of reciprocal embassies , and other areas of mutual benefit, “executives said in a statement issued Thursday morning.
“Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries to follow the UAE’s lead,” Trump said.
While the president hailed the deal as a “peace deal,” the UAE banned the use of the terminology and instead stressed the fact that Israel had pledged not to annex parts of the West Bank. Netanyahu had intended to do so in recent months, using a peace proposal issued by the White House earlier this year to support the move – which had drawn condemnation around the world.
In his first comment on the deal, Prince Mohamed wrote on Twitter that “an agreement was reached to stop Israel’s further annexation of the Palestinian territories.”
“The UAE and Israel also agreed on co-operation and the establishment of a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship,” the crown prince added.
Israel has official diplomatic ties with only two other Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, with which it signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994, respectively.
But it has also come to cooperate in recent years with Gulf Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates – unofficially – on a large part of security issues related to what they see as a common enemy in Iran.
In their joint statement Thursday, the leaders said that Israel and the United Arab Emirates “will immediately expand and accelerate cooperation on the treatment and development of a coronavirus vaccine.”
At the White House, Trump called the deal “historic” and said it would be called the Abraham Accord, which US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman explained was intended to signal “the potential for unity” between Muslims, Jews and Christians. .
“I wanted it to be called the Donald J. Trump Agreement, but I did not think the press would understand that,” Trump said with a laugh from his aides. “So I didn’t do it.”
Asked if he supported Israel annexing Palestinian land, Trump said “we are talking to Israel about this now”, without elaborating.