US President Donald Trump is set to preside over the signing of historic diplomatic deals between Israel and two Gulf Arab nations that could herald a dramatic shift in Middle East power dynamics and give him a boost ahead of the November election.
In a White House ceremony aimed at showcasing presidential statesmanship, Trump was to host more than 700 guests yesterday on the South Lawn to witness the sealing of the agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.
Trump and his allies hope the occasion will burnish Trump’s credentials as a peacemaker at the height of his re-election campaign.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Emirati and Bahraini foreign ministers are to ink the deals before the crowd, which will include representatives of supporting nations from the Washington-based diplomatic corps, but few other dignitaries from overseas.
Some congressional Democrats who have offered muted praise have been invited to attend.
In addition to the individual bilateral agreements signed by Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, all three will sign a trilateral document, officials said.
The agreements are dubbed the “Abraham Accords” after the patriarch of the world’s three major monotheistic religions. Trump is expected to sign as a witness.
The agreements will not end active wars, but formalize the normalization of the Jewish state’s already warming relations with the two countries.
While not addressing the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they might pave the way for a broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement after decades of enmity, a pair of wars and only two previous peace deals.
Skeptics, including many longtime Mideast observers, analysts, experts and former officials, have expressed doubts about the impact of the deals and lamented that they ignore the Palestinians, who have rejected them as a stab in the back by fellow Arabs.
Yet even the harshest critics have allowed that they could usher in a seismic shift in the region should other Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, follow suit, with implications for Iran, Syria and Lebanon.
Other Arab countries believed to be close to recognizing Israel include Oman, Sudan and Morocco.
“These agreements are a huge accomplishment for the countries involved and have led to a tremendous sense of hope and optimism in the region,” said Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who led the negotiations. “Instead of focusing on past conflicts, people are now focused on creating a vibrant future filled with endless possibilities.”
The specific contents of the individual documents to be signed were not known ahead of the ceremony.
While officials said they would hew closely to the joint statements issued when the deals were first announced, it remained unclear if the agreements would require further action by the three governments or what binding obligations they would commit each to enforcing.
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