Israel formally agreed to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain during a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, The New York Times reports.
President Donald Trump hosted the leaders of the three nations on the South Lawn to sign the Abraham Accords and individual agreements between Israel and the two Arab states.
“After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump declared.
The accords laid the groundwork for the three states to open embassies and establish formal diplomatic channels.
The agreement also allows air travel between Israel and the UAE, with Bahrain allowing its airspace to be used for the flights.
The agreements “make scant reference to the fate of the Palestinians,” the New York Times noted, but includes a call for “a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.”
First agreement since 1994:
The accords mark Israel’s first agreement with an Arab state since 1994, when it established formal diplomatic relations with Jordan.
The accords also underscore a growing alliance between Israel and the region’s Sunni Muslim states as the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia work to pressure Iran, the lone Shiite power in the region.
“Today’s signing sets history on a new course, and there will be other countries very, very soon,” Trump said Tuesday.
Will Saudi Arabia join?
Trump told reporters that five other countries could soon make similar moves and suggested that Saudi Arabia could be among them.
Analysts believe that Sudan and Oman are more likely to be the next nations, according to the Times, but agree that Bahrain likely acted with the Saudis’ blessing.
“This peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Palestinians protested the agreements by firing rockets into Israel from Gaza during the ceremony, according to the Times.
“It’s not conflict resolution and it’s not peace — this is a business deal,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, told the Times. “It’s very, very clear that there are aligned interests between Israel and these countries — military, security, diplomatic, economic — and those interests have been there for two decades.”
“This formalizes that, but it shouldn’t be overplayed as resolving a core conflict for Israel with its neighbors,” he said, adding that the conflict with the Palestinians “remains unaddressed with this agreement.”