On this historic 15th day of September 2020, President Donald J. Trump hosted the State of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain in signing three documents that would forever change the lives of those living in the Middle East: a peace treaty between Israel and the UAE, a declaration of peace between Israel and Bahrain, and the Abraham Accords, a document which records for posterity and clarifies for future purposes the exact nature of the diplomatic ties sealed between these three Middle Eastern nations with their signatures.
Prior to the ceremony, President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fielded questions separately from reporters in the Oval Office.
In 72 years, two peace treaties were signed between Israel with Egypt and Jordan, as President Trump pointed out. The present two peace agreements were reached — and signed — within a single month, a feat never before imagined or accomplished by another other leader.
“After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” President Trump said. “Thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries, we take a major stride toward a future in which people from all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity.
“The Abraham Accords also open the door for Muslims around the world to visit the historic sites in Israel and to peacefully pray at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.
“Together, these agreements will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the region, something which nobody thought was possible, certainly not in this day and age – maybe in many decades from now – one founded in shared interests, mutual respect, and friendship.
It is truly a historic day at the @WhiteHouse! Thanks to the bold and decisive leadership of President @realDonaldTrump and the vision of the leaders of the State of Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain, the Abraham Accords mark an incredible step towards peace! pic.twitter.com/UdZJ2BERWN
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) September 15, 2020
“This is a pivot of history,” Netanyahu said as he took the podium following Trump. “This is not a peace between leaders, but a peace among peoples.”
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, brother of the Crown Prince, chose to speak in Arabic, and have his words translated into English, though he made it clear from the start with his initial few words of greeting that he is entirely fluent in the English language.
“I stand here today to extend a hand of peace and receive a hand of peace. In our faith, we say, Oh God, you are peace and from you comes peace. The search for peace is an innate principle, yet principles are effectively realized when they are transformed into action,” he said.
“Today, we are already witnessing a change at the heart of the Middle East, a change that will send hope around the world. We are witnessing today a new trend that will create a better path for the Middle East.
“As for us in the United Arab Emirates, this accord will enable us to continue to stand by the Palestinian people and realize their hopes for an independent state within a stable and prosperous region.”
He thanked Netanyahu for “halting the annexation of the Palestinian territories.”
The Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, spoke last.
“Today is a truly historic occasion. A moment of hope and opportunity for all the peoples of the Middle East and in particular for the millions in our younger generations,” he said. “For too long, the Middle East has been set back by conflict and mistrust, causing untold destruction” which continually dashed the hopes of the “youngest and brightest” of the Middle East. Now I am convinced we can change that,” he said.
“Today’s agreement is an important first step and it’s now incumbent upon us” to follow up with an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. “We have shown today that such a path is possible, even realistic. What was only dreamed of a few years ago is now achievable, and we can see before us a golden opportunity for peace, security, and prosperity for our region.”
In Israel, the ceremony and the accords were celebrated with images of the flags of the four nations – the US, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain — projected on to a section of the walls surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday night.
Tel Aviv's City Hall is lit up with the word peace in Hebrew, Arabic, and English in honor of the #AbrahamAccords.
(Video by Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS) pic.twitter.com/Aex1llmOMG
— TPS – Israel's News Agency (@TPS_News_co_il) September 15, 2020
In Tel Aviv, the word “peace” alternately flashed in English, Hebrew and Arabic on the outside of the city’s municipal building.
A pair of tourism bloggers from Israel and the UAE did a ‘Facebook Live’ chat on Tuesday night to celebrate the new peace accords, kibbitzing over food and travel venues, discussing plans for itineraries when the “Corona finally ends and we can grab a flight — after all, we’re only three and a half hours away!” With no real advance publicity, the conversation had already garnered 2,000 views in just about 20 minutes before this writer caught up with them. Signing off, the blogger from Abu Dhabi smiled broadly and said, “We will forget what happened before, we will open a new book and we will be brothers and friends forever Inshallah!” before winking out.
According to Trump, there are at least another five — and possibly more — Arab countries who are waiting to make a similar deal.
Today's signing represents the possibility for a new chapter of peace throughout the Middle East.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 15, 2020
Netanyahu has made similar claims, albeit not as specific.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority government is still flipping out, its leadership accusing the rulers of Bahrain and the UAE of “back-stabbing” their Arab brethren and so forth and so on. But Trump told reporters during his briefing with Netanyahu that in fact the White House has indeed been in touch with Palestinian Authority officials. Are we surprised yet?