Abdullatif Al-Zayani, Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump, and Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan participate in the signing of the Abraham Accords. AFP
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements on Tuesday for normalising relations with Israel.
US President Donald Trump hosted the ceremony at the sprawling lawns of the White House.
In front of a crowd of several hundred people on the White House lawn, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed accords with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani.
The deals make them the third and fourth Arab states to take such steps to normalise ties since Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
Meeting Netanyahu earlier in the Oval Office, Trump said, "We'll have at least five or six countries coming along very quickly" to forge their own accords with Israel. But he did not name any of the nations involved in such talks.
Speaking from the White House balcony, Trump said: "We're here this afternoon to change the course of history." Flags of the United States, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain were in abundance.
He called it "a major stride in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity" and declared that the three Middle East countries "are going to work together, they are friends."
The minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, held a virtual media conference ahead of the signing ceremony in Washington, where Bahrain and Israel were also to sign a normalisation deal.
"I hope that this will bring a shift towards de-escalation in the region, it will bring a shift towards dialogue, communication, understanding that the polarisation in the region has been disastrous really for the region and its population," he said.
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The UAE has "not changed its political position" in support of the Palestinians and their right to an independent state, he insisted.
"I think the heaviest burden was the psychological barrier," Gargash said.
"Once you realise that what you have been doing over so many years has not been working, and once you have taken that decision to break this barrier, then I think everything else becomes more manageable."
"I think the commitment of suspension of annexation is very clear to me," Gargash said.
"Also, the presence of the United States as the mediator and interlocutor of this really assures me that this suspension is real and long lasting."
Gargash stressed that Abu Dhabi's move was "not directed against anybody... but primarily about us in the United Arab Emirates".
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