WASHINGTON D.C.—On Thursday, August 13th, President Donald Trump announced from the Oval Office he had secured a landmark agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to Trump, the two countries have agreed to a “full normalization of relations” in exchange for Israel fully suspending their plan to annex the occupied West Bank Territory.
If this agreement goes through, the UAE will become the third Arab country to declare “normal diplomatic relations” with Israel—Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty in 1979, and Jordan the second in 1994.
According to New York Times reporters Peter Baker, Isabel Kershner, David D. Kirkpatrick, and Ronen Bergman, this announcement from the White House came as a “surprise.”
After a three-way phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed, President Trump announced, “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 United Arab Emirates’ lead.”
This call came six weeks after indirect talks between Israeli and Emirati officials and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor.
According to the New York Times, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have “long maintained a thinly veiled secret relationship over mutual interests.”
Nevertheless, both Israeli and Emirati constituents were disappointed about the announcement.
Some Israeli settlers keen on the annexation of West Bank territories were frustrated with Netanyahu’s abandonment of his plan to claim sovereignty over the areas.
Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani said in an interview yesterday, “This agreement is a total departure from the Arab consensus. The Palestinian people have no authorized anyone to make concessions to Israel in exchange for anything.”
In the president’s Oval Office statement he claimed that this deal would allow for greater cooperation and communication between the two countries in the fields of investment, security, technology, and energy.
This will also be the first time regular direct flights between Israel and the UAE will begin, embassies for each respective country will open, and trade ambassadors will be delegated.