WASHINGTON: The UAE and Bahrain signed historic agreements with Israel today in a ceremony overseen by Donald Trump in Washington.
The Abraham Accord means the two Gulf countries joined Egypt and Jordan as the only Arab nations to have full relations with Israel.
The ceremony was attended by the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, the foreign minister of Bahrain and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu.
The signing took place on the South Lawn of the White House - the same place where Israeli and Palestinian leaders signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.
“I stand here today to extend a hand of peace and receive a hand of peace,” Sheikh Abdullah said.
Addressing Netanyahu, he said: “Thank you for choosing peace and halting the annexation of Palestinian territories.”
Al-Zayani described the accord as a historic step on the road to a “genuine and lasting peace.”
He said he hoped the agreement would lead to a “comprehensive and enduring two-state solution for the Palestinian people.”
During the signing ceremony, the parties inked the Abraham Accord document while the UAE and Israel signed a treaty of “peace, diplomatic relations and full normalization.”
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Bahrain, which only announced on Friday that an agreement had been reached, also signed a “declaration of peace” with Israel.
The UAE announced last month it had reached a deal with Israel to normalize relations in return for a promise not to annex large areas of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
The two countries have already held talks across a range of areas of cooperation and an Israeli and American delegation visited Abu Dhabi for on Aug. 31. The group, which included Trump advisor Jared Kushner, arrived on the first commercial flight from Israel to the UAE.
Donald Trump opened Tuesday’s ceremony praising the leaders of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain for reaching agreements that he said would “serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”
“After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said. “We're here this afternoon to change the course of history.”
Earlier he said five or six more countries were ready to also open up relations with Israel.
Netanyahu called the day a “pivot of history that heralds a new dawn of peace.”
“Ultimately it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all,” he said.
The event was attended by 700 people including former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and former British premier Tony Blair.
Earlier, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the deal had “broken the psychological barrier” and was “the way forward” for the region.
Following the ceremony, Bahrain’s minister of transportation and telecommunications and Israel’s minister of transportation discussed cooperation, Bahrain’s state news agency (BNA) reported.