History was marked today, when the Jewish State of Israel signed two separate bilateral normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain under the auspices of the United States.
The signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords was held on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington D.C. in the presence of 700 guests.
The momentous occasion heralds a paradigm shift in the region. Ahead of the ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed the “declaration of peace” to be a “great turning point in the history of Israel and in the history of the Middle East,” which he said had been in the works “for very many years.”
Netanyahu also stated the accords “will have a great and positive effect on every citizen of Israel,” and went on to vow that “additional countries are on the way” to forging similar pacts.
The pact with Bahrain is more of a ‘general document of intent’ ahead of a separate signing of a future formal normalization accord between the two countries, in contrast with the UAE deal.
The Israeli Premier held a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump prior to the event during which Washington’s expected sale of 5th generation F-35 Stealth fighter jets to Abu Dhabi was discussed among other matters of bilateral interest.
Emirati Economy Minister Abdulla Bin Touq proclaimed that his nation’s accord with Jerusalem has already yielded “benefits of peace.” “A first flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi landed on August 31st and Saudi Arabia graciously opened its airspace for such commercial flights and Bahrain soon followed. And we are seeing reports that Israeli firms have signed deals with their Emirati counterparts, and we anticipate a host of joint ventures in all sectors,” he said during a virtual conference of the US-UAE Business Council, while cautioning, “But we cannot take this moment for granted. Opportunity is knocking and we must open the doors.”
Minister Bin Touq underscored that “the prospects of trade and commerce between Israel and the UAE are exciting for both countries. Two of the most innovative and advanced economies in the region, if not the world. Our two young countries share common values with the United States when it comes to entrepreneurship and investing in our people. The UAE and Israel are the largest trade partners for the US in the region. We are two of the largest economies in the region; the richest and most connected.”
“Think about the power of these economies. Imagine what is possible now that we will be trading and working with one-another,” he added, saying, “Israeli media reports indicate that Israeli exports to the UAE could quickly jump to, from $300 to $500 million annually – and perhaps more. And, UAE investments in could be as much as $350 million a year.”
Not all reaction to the Abraham Accords has been positive. The leading Islamic clerics of the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca have made an unprecedented call for Muslims around the world to avoid “passionate emotions and fiery enthusiasm” toward the Jewish people – in a dramatic shift that may allude to Riyadh’s intent of altering its position toward normalizing relations with the Jewish State.
Justification of the altered position by the Islamic leadership may signal the extension of good will toward the Jewish people as a pretext for their attempted en masse conversion to Islam.
“God Almighty said, ‘and accompany them in this life with kindness’ and the prophet [referring to Muhammad] peace be upon him abluted from a non-believers water, and died with his shield mortgaged with a Jew. And he treated the Jews of Khaybar equally and treated his Jewish neighbor well, prompting him to convert to Islam, ” said Imam Abdulrahman al Sudais of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, adding, “And when we dismiss the conversation of humanity, the clash of civilizations is inflamed, and the language of violence, exclusion and hatred dominates.”
While Riyadh is not expected to follow the example of its Gulf allies any time soon, the remarks voiced by Imam Sudais alludes to how the Kingdom approaches the sensitive subject of warming ties with Israel – a once inconceivable prospect. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud appointed the Imam, who is one of the country’s most influential figures in reflecting views of the conservative religious establishment as well as the Royal Court.
Saudi citizens are voicing mixed feelings to the latest developments vis-à-vis Arab normalization with Israel. “First of all, the Bahrain decision is their own and only relates to them,” Faisal al-Dakhel told Reuters, adding that, “We hope this agreement helps the peace efforts between the Arab countries and Israel, and we can take a break from those benefiting from the [Palestinian] cause.” Saudi national Ali Al-Suliman commented that, “It’s difficult to get used to this normalization overnight, whether from the Bahrainis or the rest of the Gulf and the Middle East in general, because Israel is an occupying country and has driven the Palestinians out of their homes, so it’s difficult to get used to this in a short time. Maybe in the future, I don’t know, but I doubt it.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh was infuriated by the historic events in Washington. “This will be a black day in the history of the Arab nation and a defeat of the Arab League institution,” he proclaimed, stressing that “This dark day will be added to the Palestinian calendar of pain and Arab calendar of defeats, as it deals the death blow to the Arab Peace Initiative and Arab solidarity.”
Shtayyeh alleged that, “The signing of the UAE(-Israeli) and Bahraini(-Israeli) normalization agreements means recognizing the US’s so-called Middle East peace plan,” which has long been denounced by the Palestinians. He also revealed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may reconsider Ramallah’s relations with the Arab League, after it refused to condemn the UAE and Bahraini normalization agreements with Jerusalem.
Hamas official Ismail Radwan, decried, “Normalization is treason of the (Palestinian) cause and the (Arab) nation, and we are proceeding with (armed) resistance, and rejection of normalization and the (U.S.) ‘Deal of the Century‘ and annexation, as we are partnered by all the people of the (Arab) nations.”
Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip staged numerous protests against the Abraham Accords. In accordance with their custom of burning posters of U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demonstrators also set images of Gulf leaders ablaze.
TV7 was informed by local sources, however, that despite organization of the protest by Gaza’s Hamas rulers, only a few dozen Palestinian activists showed up.