WASHINGTON • A historic peace deal to normalise diplomatic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was sealed in a phone call yesterday between US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.
Under the agreement, Israel agreed to suspend applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank that it has been discussing annexing, senior White House officials told Reuters.
“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
In the White House’s Oval Office, Mr Trump said discussions between the two leaders had sometimes been tense. He said similar deals are being discussed with other countries in the region. A signing ceremony including delegations from Israel and the UAE will be held at the White House in the coming weeks, Mr Trump added.
“Everybody said this would be impossible,” Mr Trump said. “After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalise their diplomatic relations. They exchange embassies and ambassadors and begin cooperation across the border.”
The US officials described the deal, to be known as the Abraham Accords, as the first of its kind since Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994. It also gives Mr Trump a foreign policy success as he seeks re-election on Nov 3.
Mr Netanyahu, in his first comment on the deal, said on Twitter that it is “a historic day for the state of Israel”. Also on Twitter, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince said that an agreement had been reached and that it would halt further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories.
“During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories. The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a road map towards establishing a bilateral relationship,” he said.
A senior Israeli official said applying Israeli sovereignty to areas of the West Bank – territory Palestinians seek for a state along with Gaza and East Jerusalem – was still on the agenda, but added: “The Trump administration asked us to temporarily suspend the (sovereignty) announcement so that the historic peace agreement with the UAE can be implemented.”
A joint statement issued by the three nations said their leaders had “agreed to the full normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates”.
“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region,” the statement said.
Mr Trump said: “This deal is a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure and prosperous Middle East. Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the UAE’s lead…
“We are already discussing this with other nations, very powerful, very good nations that want to see peace in the Middle East…”
Delegations from Israel and the UAE will meet soon to sign bilateral deals on investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other issues. The two countries are expected to exchange ambassadors and embassies.
The agreement envisions giving Muslims greater access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem by allowing them to fly from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv, White House officials said.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE