Trump to Host Israel-UAE Deal Signing Ceremony Next Week, White House Says

Noa Landau
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Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Jared Kushner and the UAE's Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash hold a meeting in Abu Dhabi, August 31, 2020.
Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Jared Kushner and the UAE's Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash hold a meeting in Abu Dhabi, August 31, 2020.Credit: Ministry of Presidential Affairs/WAM/Handout via Reuters
Noa Landau

U.S. President Donald Trump will hold a September 15 signing ceremony for the historic diplomatic agreement normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, a senior White House official said on Tuesday.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan will lead the official delegations to the ceremony.

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"I am proud to go to Washington next week, at the invitation of President Trump, and to attend the historic White House ceremony to establish the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates," Netanyahu said.

Hend Al Otaiba, director of strategic communications at the UAE's Foreign Ministry, confirmed in a tweet the minister's participation "in the signing ceremony for the peace accord with Israel. It will be a momentous occasion in the histories of our two countries & the region."

As part of the deal, announced at the White House on August 13 following what officials said were 18 months of talks, the Gulf state agreed to normalize relations with Israel, while Israel agreed to continue with plans to suspend its annexation of the West Bank.

Trump and other administration officials have said they expect Saudi Arabia and other countries to follow suit in recognizing Israel.

Iran has dismissed the agreement, which also served to firm up opposition to Tehran, a regional power seen by the UAE, Israel and the United States as the main threat in the Middle East.

The deal falls short of any grand Middle East peace plan to resolve decades of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians despite Trump's pledge to do so with efforts led by White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Trump proposed a peace plan in January that heavily favored the Israelis, but it has not advanced in any significant way.

On Monday, Haaretz reported that the UAE is planning to make its first official visit to Israel on September 22 to build up the countries' agreement to normalize relations, according to a source familiar with the provisional itinerary said.

UAE officials did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The two countries announced on August 13 they would normalize diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal that was hailed as a breakthrough by Washington and Israel but spurned by the Palestinians.

Last week, an Israeli delegation headed by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat visited Abu Dhabi to formalize the U.S.-brokered deal to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates. Meir was joined by his U.S. counterpart Robert O'Brien and senior U.S. Presidential Adviser Jared Kushner.

The first meeting between the delegation and Emirati officials following the arrival included discussion of the possibility of opening embassies in the UAE and Israel and of signing bilateral agreements to improve ties, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. The meeting was headed on the Israeli side by Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Ushpiz. 

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