Israel, Arab states set to sign Trump-brokered deals in White House ceremony

Israel will officially sign deals to normalize ties with the Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Tuesday that were brokered by President Donald Trump in what is described as a diplomatic breakthrough.

The agreements — called the Abraham Accords — will be signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahrain’s foreign minister, Abdullatif Al Zayani during a ceremony at the White House.

“Instead of focusing on past conflicts, people are now focused on creating a vibrant future filled with endless possibilities,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who helped negotiate the agreements, said in a statement late on Monday.

UAE and Bahrain are the third and fourth Arab states to normalize ties with Israel despite the country not having reached a resolution to the entrenched dispute with the Palestinians.

Decades have since past since the first two peace treaties with Israel were signed by Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

The new agreements will see Israel suspend its claim of sovereignty over areas outlined in the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan.

While marking a diplomatic victory for Trump ahead of November’s presidential election, the agreements have outraged Palestinians, sparking protests across the region.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned the move, saying on Twitter that it erodes unity between Arab states.

“This day will be added to the calendar of Palestinian pain and the record of Arab fractures,” he said.

Critics warn the new deals also risk undermining the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which was proposed by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the Arab League, which called for normalization of ties with Israel on the condition that Israeli forces were withdrawn from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

“Peace which does not include the realization of the rights of all Palestinians will be one without justice,” Shawan Jabarin, general director of the independent Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq.

Still, the deal is a positive development for the region, setting the stage for increased trade, tourism and diplomacy, Yossi Mekelberg, professor of international relations at Regent’s University in London, told NBC News.

“This is a big moment, it’s an historic moment and we shouldn’t under underestimate how important it is,” he said.

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The Gulf states could use the deal to push Israel toward more meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians, which had refused to take part in Trump’s Middle East peace initiative, Mekelberg added.

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