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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Trump Announces PEACE DEAL Between Israel, UAE

Pact normalizes relations; Trump predicts more nations to follow

President Donald Trump listens during an event called "Kids First: Getting America's Children Safely Back to School" in the State Dining room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump listens during an event called “Kids First: Getting America’s Children Safely Back to School” in the State Dining room of the White House, Wednesday, 
Aug. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Lauren Meier and Tom Howell Jr.

 President Trump hailed an agreement Thursday that normalizes relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates after a long history of sharing no formal diplomatic ties.

In a joint statement, the countries and the U.S. said the deal will “unlock the great potential in the region” and pave the way for cooperation on everything from tourism to technology and health care.
“Things are happening that I can’t talk about, but they’re extremely positive,” he said. “Everybody said this would be impossible.”
“Things are happening that I can’t talk about,” he said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the announcement a “significant step towards peace in the Middle East.”
The UAE has grown to become a key military ally to the U.S. and has looked to Israel in its efforts to bolster Gulf relations amid increasing concerns of Iran. Mr. Trump vowed to strike a nuclear agreement with Iran “within 30 days” if he is elected to a second term.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and other aides said Mr. Trump, who faces reelection in November, had revamped the region.
“What we see today is a new Middle East,” Brian Hook, a senior policy adviser for the State Department, said, referring to Mr. Trump’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran.
“This is a remarkable achievement for two of the world’s most forward-leaning, technologically advanced states and reflects their shared regional vision of an economically integrated region,” Mr. Pompeo said, adding that it highlights their shared commitment to “confronting common threats.”
While the two countries have not historically shared formal diplomatic ties, the Emirates have allowed Israeli officials to visit, and the Israeli national anthem was played after an athlete won gold in an Abu Dhabi judo tournament. Israel also has a small mission representing its interests at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi.
“Today’s normalization agreement between Israel and the Emirates holds similar potential and the promise for a better day for the entire region,” Mr. Pompeo said. “The United States congratulates Israel and the Emirates for their important achievement. … Mabruk and mazel tov.”
Mr. Trump said it was “a truly historic moment” and the biggest sign of progress in the region since the Israel-Jordan pact signed in the mid-1990s.
“We will probably see others of these, but this is the first one in 25 years,” Mr. Trump said.
He said Muslims from the UAE will be able to see important sites in Jerusalem.
Jared Kushner, White House senior adviser and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, said the president took an “untraditional approach” to the negotiations.
“He tries to unite people by focusing on common interests,” Mr. Kushner said, as opposed to letting the parties re-air their grievances.
As part of the deal, Israel agreed to “suspend” controversial plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
Critics of the plan, including Arab powers, who say the move will usher in violence, destabilize the Middle East and will ruin any chance of lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace and undermine delicate relations Israel has built with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in recent years.
Supporters, meanwhile, say the annexation will solidify Israel’s sovereignty and harden its security barrier against terrorism and Iranian aggression.
The agreement quickly received praise from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who said the move “represents tremendous progress toward greater peace and prosperity across the region.”
“I hope other Arab states will seize on this momentum and take similar steps to normalize their ties with Israel and bring about a more peaceful region.”
On the other side of the aisle, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot L. Engel welcomed the announcement and said it “will strengthen both countries.”
“I hope that this new breakthrough will give courage to other countries to move forward toward normalization and motivate Palestinians to give peace a chance,” the New York Democrat said. “I look forward to the day when Israel is surrounded by peaceful neighbors, including a democratic, demilitarized Palestinian state that accepts that the Jewish state has a permanent place in the Middle East.”
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden also applauded the development and said the countries took “a historic step to bridge the deep divides of the Middle East.”
“It is a timely reminder that enmities and differences — even long-standing ones — are not set in stone, and of the role American diplomacy can play,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said. “There is always room for cooperation and collaboration on areas of mutual interest, and the Emirates and Israel both share a keen interest in preserving the prospects for peace in the region.”
But it has also seen swift pushback from pro-Israel organizations who say the plan still leaves the door open for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to execute his annexation plan.
“There is nothing to celebrate about Trump and Netanyahu’s latest sleight of hand,” said Emily Mayer, political director of the IfNotNow movement, which wants to end the annexation.
She said the plan “gives Netanyahu diplomatic cover to say that he stopped formal annexation of the West Bank.”
Mr. Biden said that he opposes the annexation plan and would continue to oppose it as president, but said that “by forestalling that possibility and replacing it with the hope of greater connection and integration in the region, the United Arab Emirates and Israel have pointed a path toward a more peaceful, stable Middle East.”
• This story is based in part on wire reports.

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