Self-interest and missing pieces blur Trump’s Middle East claims

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara to the White House

Israel, 2 Gulf nations seal new accords at White House ceremony, angering Palestinians

B'nai B'rith International Daniel Mariaschin emphasized to JNS that the "importance of today's signing ceremony can not be overstated", and that the Arab-Israeli conflict "is becoming undone one country at a time".

"We're here to change the course of history", Trump said. "After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East", Trump said.

The agreements do not address the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mohammad Mohanna, a Palestinian protester from Hebron, said: "We call on the UAE and Bahrain to backtrack from the agreement with Israel and go back to being supportive of the Palestinians in the same way we've always known them to be, and we wish no other Arab country would ever make an agreement with Israel". But a second-term Mr Trump would quickly be a lameduck diplomat-in-chief with much less capital and sway at home and overseas. Until now, foreign policy has not had a major role in a campaign dominated by the coronavirus, racial issues and the economy. The leaders, who did not wear masks, read statements from a White House balcony to about 200 people below, sitting side by side.

Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi also commit to work together "to realize a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that meets the legitimate needs and aspirations of both people, and to advance comprehensive Middle East peace, stability and prosperity".

Trump did not name the additional countries, but hinted during separate bilateral talks with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan that Saudi Arabia may be on board without saying so specifically.

"Today, we are already witnessing a change in the heart of the Middle East - a change that will send hope around the world", Al Nahyan said.

"As for us in the United Arab Emirates, this accord will enable us to continue to stand by the Palestinian people and realize their hopes for an independent state within a stable and prosperous region". Other Arab countries believed to be close to recognizing Israel include Oman, Sudan and Morocco.

The secretary of the central committee of the Fatah Party, Jibril Rajoub, told reporters "what is happening today in Washington is a form of collapse of the official Arab order".

"That's just the tip of the iceberg of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, and the UAE and Bahrain somehow chose to reward Israel for these crimes by making agreements with it".

"Diplomatic sleight of hand can't absolve Netanyahu of the domestic omni-shambles", said Gershom Gorenberg, a prominent Israeli historian and author. In our faith, we say, Oh God, you are peace and from you comes peace. "The U.S. administration and the Israeli government will be held accountable".

The Palestinian leadership, which has long accused Trump of pro-Israel bias, has denounced the Arab rapprochement with Israel as a betrayal of their cause, even though Netanyahu agreed, in return for normalisation with the UAE, to suspend a plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Traditionally, Arab League States have been hostile towards Israel, insisting on restoring the border between the Jewish state and Palestine to where it was before the 1967 Six-Day War as the basis for peace. "A moment of hope and opportunity for all the peoples of the Middle East and in particular for the millions in our younger generations", he said. "The leaders of Israel, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the UAE have taken this bold step forward, and it's our honest hope that this fast-tracks peace in the Middle East between Israel and all Arab neighbors".

The peace accords were not well-received in Bahrain either, where the AP reports the Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq released a statement condemning normalized relations with the "Zionist entity".

The "Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations Between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain" uses very similar language.

The ceremony follows months of intricate diplomacy headed by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and the president's envoy for worldwide negotiations, Avi Berkowitz. That was followed by the first direct commercial flight between the countries, and then the September 11 announcement of the Bahrain-Israel agreement.

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