The shared interests behind Arab-Israeli normalization

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

UAE and Bahrain sign recognition deals with Israel

Tuesday's agreements broke a decades-old commitment by most of the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel only after it agreed to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

"While we welcome openings between Israel and Gulf states, we see the signing ceremony for what it is-a recklessly planned foreign-policy stunt driven first and foremost by Trump's political calculations, and a potential security risk to Israel given Trump's reported plans to sell advanced fighter jets to the UAE", said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, in a statement.

(L-R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan pose from the Truman Balcony at the White House after they participated in the signing of the Abraham Accords where the countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognize Israel, in Washington on September 15, 2020.

President Donald Trump is set to preside over the signing of historic diplomatic deals between Israel and two Gulf Arab nations that could herald a dramatic shift in Middle East power dynamics and give him a boost ahead of the November election.

"We're very far down the road with five additional countries", the president told reporters, declining to name the other countries.

"MORE countries to follow!" wrote the U.S. leader, who hopes the peace deal will boost his reelection chances in November.

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But regional countries no longer think it's possible to use normalization with Israel as a bargaining chip to achieve the two-state solution, said Will Todman, associate fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Together these agreements will serve as the foundation for comprehensive peace across the entire region, Trump said. He has spent his presidency forecasting deals on such intractable problems as North Korea's nuclear program only to find actual achievements elusive.

Even in Israel, where the accords have received widespread acclaim, there is concern that that they might result in U.S. sales of sophisticated weaponry to the UAE and Bahrain, thus potentially upsetting Israel's qualitative military edge in the region. "After decades of division and conflict we marked the dawn of a new Middle East", Mr Trump said from the executive mansion's Truman Balcony.

"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". In that, they will not succeed.

Another target is Oman, whose leader spoke with Trump last week. "We will hit everyone who tries to harm us, and we will extend a hand of peace to all who reach out to us to make peace", the prime minister said in a statement. "In becoming the third and fourth Arab countries to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, the UAE and Bahrain lead the way for others to follow".

"They want to prevent peace, they won't". Tehran shows no sign of budging. "The blessings of the peace we make today will be enormous".

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President Trump helped broker the historic agreement between the UAE and Israel to normalise relations in August. The White House is encouraging those attending Tuesday's ceremony to wear masks. Even senior Israeli officials were not told in advance what the documents contained, creating a storm of controversy there.

Some differences remain despite warming ties.

A wrinkle in the negotiations was the UAE's interest in buying F-35 fighter jets from the USA, a move opposed by Israel.

"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. In exchange, the USA agreed to sell the UAE F-35 stealth fighter jets, and Israel would agree to suspend plans to annex West Bank land.

Iran has strongly condemned the normalization agreements, saying such moves have sacrificed the Palestinian cause against the occupation for the upcoming United States presidential election.

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