President Donald Trump told reporters on Sept. 15 that Saudi Arabia will be among the seven to nine Arab nations that eventually will normalize relations with Israel.
Trump said in response to a reporter asking if Saudi Arabia would join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain in an agreement with Israel, “I spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia. At the right time, I do think they will come in, yes, I do.” He later added that “we will have other countries coming in fairly rapidly,” estimating that it would be around “seven or eight or nine” more countries.
President Trump says that he spoke to the king of Saudi Arabia and that the thinks they will make a peace deal with Israel in the future:
"We will have other countries coming in fairly rapidly." pic.twitter.com/TpVHEbbJhp
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) September 15, 2020
The UAE and Bahrain are only the third and fourth Arab states to establish full relations with Israel in more than 70 years. There already was a de facto peace between the Arab nations and Israel, but the pact opens the door for commerce and tourism. Earlier in the day, Trump had estimated that it would be “at least five or six countries” that would soon establish relations with Israel.
“They’re warring countries but they’re tired of fighting,” Trump said. “You’re going to see a lot of very great activity. It’s going to be peace in the Middle East.”
He also expressed optimism that the Palestinians eventually would join in and agree to peace with Israel. But for now, prominent Palestinian political figures have condemned the agreement. Middle East experts say the Palestinians feel betrayed because long-standing Arab solidarity with the Palestinians was seen as a bargaining chip in the fight for a two-state solution in Israel. The Times of Israel reported, “Said Saeb Erekat, the veteran Palestinian negotiator, ‘I never expected this poison dagger to come from an Arab country.’ ”
Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Sept 15 to protest the signing ceremony.
On Aug. 21, Al Jazeera reported that Saudi Arabia leadership reiterated that it would not establish ties with Israel until a sovereign Palestinian state is established, with Jerusalem as its capital.
On Sept. 15, the White House had held a signing ceremony of the agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Israel and Bahrain. Trump declared that the agreements, known as the Abraham Accord, “mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “deeply moved” to be at the signing ceremony, as he understood that “those who bear the wounds of war cherish the blessings of peace.” He said that there would be massive ramifications across the Middle East with the signing of the Abraham Accord.
“This peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all,” Netanyahu said. “Second, because the great economic benefits of our partnership will be felt throughout our region, and they will reach every one of our citizens. And third, because this is not only a peace between leaders, it’s a peace between peoples — Israelis, Emiratis and Bahrainis are already embracing one another.
“We are eager to invest in a future of partnership, prosperity and peace. We’ve already begun to cooperate on combating corona, and I am sure that together we can find solutions to many of the problems that afflict our region and beyond.”
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said during the signing ceremony that the world is witnessing “a change in the heart of the Middle East.” He thanked Trump for his work in brokering the Abraham Accord and thanked the Israeli government for suspending its plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
“Every option other than peace would signify destruction, poverty and human suffering,” Al-Nahyan said. “This new vision, which is beginning to take shape as we meet today for the future of a region full of youthful energy, is not a slogan that we raise for political gain, as everyone looks forward to creating a more stable, prosperous, and secure future. At a time when science is prevailing, the region’s youth are looking forward to taking part in this great humanitarian movement.”
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani said that the Abraham Accord is simply “the first step” toward peace in the region, calling for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“We have shown today that such a path is possible, even realistic,” Al-Zayani said. “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. Let us — together, and with our international partners — waste no time in seizing it.”
Quotes from the signing ceremony provided by transcripts from The Times of Israel.