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Israel and UAE reach US-brokered deal to normalize relations

(JTA) — In a diplomatic breakthrough, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are normalizing ties.

The deal was finalized in a phone call on Thursday, Aug. 13, between President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

In a joint statement by the United States, Israel and UAE posted by Trump on Twitter, it said that this was a “historic diplomatic breakthrough” and will “advance peace in the Middle East.”

As part of a peace deal, Israel will pause its plans to annex areas of the West Bank, according to a joint statement released Thursday, Aug. 13, by the White House.

“Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that added diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal,” the statement read.

The statement, which referred to the two countries as “two of America’s most reliable and capable regional partners,” said that Israel and the UAE will sign agreements in the coming weeks related to investment, tourism, air travel, security, opening embassies and more. The two nations also will work together on developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, it said.

The Gulf states have been growing closer with Israel in recent years, but the UAE is the first to establish formal ties with the Jewish state. The countries share a goal of countering Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Most Arab countries do not recognize Israel’s existence. The Jewish state currently has ties only with Egypt and Jordan.

“The UAE is employing its decision for normal relations with Israel,” the UAE’s foreign minister said in a statement, according to the Times of Israel.

Speaking to media Thursday, Trump suggested that agreements between Israel and some of its other Muslim neighbors in the region could come soon, the Times of Israel reported.

“Things are happening that I can’t talk about,” he said.

After promising the move during multiple election campaigns last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been pushing to annex parts of West Bank around July 1. The plans were delayed after the Trump administration voiced concern with the idea.

“The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible,” added the statement. In recent years, Israel has had visits and warming ties with other Gulf Arab states, including Bahrain and Oman. Clandestine relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia have also reportedly grown as well.

“Together we can bring a wonderful future. It is an incomparably exciting moment,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “I have the great privilege to make the third peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country, the UAE.”

Bin Zayad confirmed on Twitter that an agreement was reached to “stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories,” and that Israel and the UAE “also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”

In an Oval Office announcement, Trump said that the deal would be known as the “Abraham Accord” after the “father of all three great faiths.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who was also in attendance at the Oval Office, said that “no person better symbolizes the potential for unity of these three great faiths.”

Trump also thanked his senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who had been leading the administration’s efforts to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and for his efforts in securing the new deal.

“The president, like with all things, urged us to take an untraditional approach,” Kushner said in the Oval Office. “You can’t solve problems that have gone unsolved the way people have done before you and failed.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touted the “vigorous diplomatic outreach” by America, Israel and the UAE.

“The United States congratulates Israel and the Emirates for this remarkable achievement, which is a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East. Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov,” Pompeo said in a tweet.

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer commended the UAE for joining Egypt and Jordan in forging peace between Israelis and Arabs.

The Jewish News Service also contributed to this article.


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