At luncheon, Trump says peace deals ‘something we should all be proud of’
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After UAE, Bahrain deals signed, Trump says 7-9 countries seek peace with Israel

Soon after historic Abraham Accords ceremony at the White House, US president includes Saudi Arabia among those nations also now ready to normalize ties with Jewish state

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

US President Donald Trump speaks alongside White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020, as he travels to Philadelphia,  (SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks alongside White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020, as he travels to Philadelphia, (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s developments as they unfolded.

UAE says normalization treaty will reference two-state solution

Anwar Gargash, UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, indicates that the Israel-UAE peace agreement will mention the two-state solution only indirectly.

In a press briefing, he says that the treaty “does reference two states through references to previous agreements signed.”

Raphael Ahren

Bahrain king calls for intensified effort to resolve Israel-Palestinian conflict

Bahrain’s King Hamad is calling for intensified effort to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the framework of the Arab Peace Inititiave, his foreign minister says hours before he was set to sign a “Declaration of Peace” with Israel.

In an interview, Abdullatif bin rashid Al Zayani says the normalization agreement with Jerusalem “is in line with King Hamad’s vision to spread the culture of peace in the world. It is also in line with his directives to intensify efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict according to the [Arab] peace initiative.”

First adopted by the Arab League in 2002, the Arab Peace Initiative promises Israel full diplomatic relations with the entire Muslim world in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines.

“Bahrain always stresses its firm and constant position toward the right of the fraternal Palestinian people, which are are the top of its priorities. The Palestinian people must obtain their complete legitimate rights,” Al Zayani adds.

Raphael Ahren

Kushner: Today marks ‘the beginning of the end of the Israel-Arab conflict’

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner hails the upcoming signing of the Middle East peace treaties, in an interview with the Today show.

“I think what you’re seeing now is the beginning of the end of the Israel-Arab conflict that has been going on for a long time,” Kushner says. “This really signals the beginning of the president bringing people together. A lot of people said when President Trump was elected that he’d be bringing war and chaos, but what he’s bringing today is peace.

“So this will hopefully reduce tension in the region, bring people closer together and long-term make the Middle East much more stable,” he says.

The full schedule: Trump to greet Bahrain FM, meet with Netanyahu

Below is the full schedule for today’s historic signing of the UAE and Bahrain’s normalization deals with Israel, according to the White House.

At 10:30 a.m. (5:30 p.m. Israel time), US President Donald Trump will greet Bahrain’s foreign minister and immediately afterward hold a bilateral meeting.

At 10:55 a.m. (5:55 p.m. Israel time), Trump will greet the UAE’s foreign minister and hold a bilateral meeting.

At 11:20 a.m. (6:20 p.m. Israel time), Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will greet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. The US president and Israeli leader will then hold a meeting.

At noon (7 p.m. Israel time), the signing of the Abraham Accords will take place on the South Lawn.

At 12:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m. Israel time), Trump, Netanyahu, and the Bahraini and UAE top diplomats will hold a working lunch.

Netanyahu said to scramble to get power of attorney from FM before US signing

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to request power of attorney from Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to sign the normalization treaties, according to Hebrew media reports.

The reports say Netanyahu was informed at the last minute by the attorney general that he lacks the legal authority to sign the agreements and must officially seek the consent of the foreign minister.

Ashkenazi obliged, on condition the deals won’t go into effect before being approved by the cabinet and Knesset, the reports say. The agreements must in any case be approved by the government and legislature under Israeli law.

Trump: I would have ‘no problem’ selling F-35s to UAE

Hours before the signing of the Israel-UAE normalization deal, US President Donald Trump tells US media he would have “no problem” selling F-35 jets to the Emiratis.

He makes the comment in a Fox News interview.

“I personally would have no problem with it,” says Trump.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied approving the US sale of the advanced fighter planes to the UAE as part of the agreement, though reports in Israel and the US indicated he gave his consent. US officials have said the sale is possible, while promising to uphold Israel’s military edge in the region.

ToI must-reads as Israel, UAE and Bahrain start new era at White House ceremony

With the historic events at the White House unfolding over the coming hours, here a few Times of Israel stories from the last couple of days you might want to catch up on.

This is our US correspondent Jacob Magid’s exclusive on the US having assured the UAE, during the negotiations on the Emirates’ accord with Israel, that the Trump administration will not support unilateral Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank before 2024. In a briefing last night, a senior US official was asked about this, and declined to confirm or deny it.

In related vein, Magid also penned this story about what a difference nine months has made for settler leaders. In January, when President Trump unveiled his peace plan, they were part of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s delegation, and euphoric about apparently imminent annexation. Not so today, when some of them flatly accuse him of having deceived them.

Here’s ToI’s editor David Horovitz celebrating the UAE deal — an Arab state finally happy to be seen in Israel’s company.

This is Yossi Klein Halevi on the new agreements as victories for both Israeli power and pragmatism.

And, finally, this is our senior political analyst Haviv Rettig Gur on the differences between Netanyahu the strategist and Netanyahu the politician.

US asks ICC to throw out Iran sanctions case

The United States urges the UN’s top court to throw out a bid by Iran to lift sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump, saying Tehran remained a “grave threat” to global security.

Iran brought the claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2018, alleging that Trump’s decision to pull out of a nuclear pact with Tehran breached a 1955 treaty of friendship between the two countries.

But US lawyers argue that the Hague-based tribunal does not have jurisdiction in the case, accusing Iran of abusing the decades-old “Treaty of Amity” to try to get sanctions relief for its struggling economy.

“Iran’s efforts to shoehorn this dispute into a legal instrument not intended for the purpose… are entirely without merit,” Marik String, Acting Legal Adviser of the US State Department, tells the court via videolink.

“We respectfully request dismissal of Iran’s case.”

Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda at the opening of the court’s judicial year with a Special Session at the seat of the court in The Hague, January 23, 2020. (courtesy ICC)

The US official says the sanctions were necessary because of Iran’s “destabilizing nuclear program,” its ballistic missile activity, Tehran’s alleged support for “terrorism and regional destabilization.”

“The measures that Iran challenges remain critical to US efforts to address national security threats posed by Iran,” String says, adding that Washington had “long considered Iran’s conduct to present a grave threat.”

Iran will have the chance to answer on Wednesday, with hearings lasting until next Monday.

The current hearings deal only with whether the ICJ has jurisdiction. The tribunal will only move on to the merits of the case if and when it decides it is allowed to deal with it.

AFP

Will Netanyahu shake hands with Gulf FMs or will virus fears prevail?

A senior Trump administration official says hundreds of people are invited to attend the White House ceremony marking the establishment of ties between Irsael and the UAE and Bahrain.

A symbolic handshake between the Arab representatives and Netanyahu is not ruled out, the official says.

“All sides are excited,” the official tells reporters.

“Coronavirus (is) in the background of everybody’s minds, although everybody will have been tested,” he says. So “if they are to engage in any sort of physical contact that will be understood.”

The senior administration official says mask wearing was encouraged but “we’re not going to require anybody to do so.”

with AFP

Haley: ‘Regardless of your politics,’ Mideast treaties should be celebrated

Former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is cheering the “historic” peace deals between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain.

Transportation minister speaks to Bahrain counterpart

Transportation Minister Miri Regev becomes the latest cabinet member to speak to her Bahraini counterpart on the phone.

“Today, we’re making history,” Regev tells Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, according to Hebrew reports.

The two agree to advance projects related to transportation, the reports say, without elaborating.

Handful of anti-Netanyahu protesters gather outside White House

WASHINGTON — Over a dozen Israeli expats have gathered at the entrance to the White House to protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is slated to arrive at the White House later this morning to sign normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.

“You can run away from Israel, but not from your corruption case,” one of the anti-PM activists shouts.

“Fraud, bribery, breach of trust,” the protesters chant in English, with heavy Israeli accents.

Jacob Magid

Protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House on September 15, 2020 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

Dubai Jewish community representatives in US for signing of Israel-UAE deal

Representatives of two rival Jewish communities in Dubai are in Washington to attend the signing ceremony of the UAE-Israel normalization agreement.

Rabbi Levi Duchman and Solly Wolf, the president of Dubai’s Jewish Community Center, yesterday went to grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, to “pray and ask the Rebbe for a blessing for our great brave community in Dubai and the the Jewish people in Israel and all the entire world, ” Wolf tells The Times of Israel.

“A great historic moment and great momentum for peace in the world,” he gushes.

Ross Kriel, the president of the rival Jewish Community of the Emirates, is also set to attend the White House ceremony.

Raphael Ahren

Rabbi Levi Duchman and Solly Wolf, the president of Dubai’s Jewish Community Center in the US to attend the Israel-UAE normalization deal signing (Courtesy)

Oman to send its ambassador to White House ceremony

Omani Ambassador to the US Hunaina al-Mughairy will be attending today’s peace deal signing ceremony at the White House, a spokesperson for Oman’s embassy confirms to The Times of Israel.

Oman, which does not have diplomatic ties with Israel, has publicly welcomed the treaties.

Jacob Magid

Adviser to Bahrain’s king hosts leader of local Jewish community

A senior diplomatic adviser to Bahrain’s King Hamad hosts the head of the country’s tiny Jewish community, Ebrahim Dahood Nonoo.

Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa praises Nonoo’s “remarkable patriotic stances” and his support for the policies of King Hamad, according to a readout of the meeting by the Bahrain News Agency.

Al Khalifa further expresses “pride in the Jewish community’s contributions in various fields, which characterizes Bahraini society as a civilized model for coexistence and openness,” according to the readout.

Nonoo expresses his appreciation to his host, the country’s former foreign minister, for his “keenness to communicate with all sects of the society, in a way that contributes to strengthen the development and prosperity of the Kingdom.”

Raphael Ahren

As virus rates soar, Netanyahu mulls closing schools from Wednesday

Underlining the stark contrast between the festive mood in Washington and Israel, which is poised for a three-week lockdown over soaring virus rates, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds consultations with top health officials ahead of the peace deal signing.

During the talks, Netanyahu considers coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu’s suggestion that the school system be closed tomorrow, rather than Friday.

That’s according to reporters traveling with the prime minister.

A decision has yet to be made.

Palestinians rally in West Bank, Gaza against normalization with Israel

Hundreds of Palestinians protest against landmark Israeli normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, hours ahead of a signing ceremony at the White House.

Clutching Palestinian flags and wearing blue face masks for protection against the novel coronavirus, demonstrators rally in the cities of Nablus and Hebron in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

A demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, home of the Palestinian Authority, was scheduled for later on Tuesday.

Banners were displayed at the protests, reading “Treason,” “No to normalization with the (Israeli) occupier” and “The agreements of shame.”

In Gaza, protesters trample on and set fire to placards showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and the UAE’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

“We say to the Bahraini regime and the Emirates that this normalization is a total betrayal of the Palestinian cause and the hopes of the Arab nation,” says Ahmad al-Medalal, an Islamic Jihad official in Gaza.

AFP

Restaurant workers to shatter plates in symbolic protest against lockdown

Restaurant owners and workers are planning to shatter a plate at 7 p.m. in a symbolic protest against the lockdown rules, which will see them closed for everything but deliveries for at least three weeks, reports Channel 12.

The protest will come precisely as the White House peace treaties signing begins.

Many owners are also vowing to openly defy the closure orders.

Pro-Palestinian protesters rally outside White House

WASHINGTON — A second group of protesters not particularly fond of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have arrived at the entrance to the White House, next to the Israeli anti-premier expats.

However, this gaggle of pro-Palestinian activists chants against the entire state of Israel.

Waving Palestinian flags, the latest group of roughly a dozen people chants, “Free, free Palestine.”

The Israeli expats chant, “Yes for peace, no for corruption,” in response.

Jacob Magid

Trump: Normalization deals will push Palestinians to negotiate

Trump, speaking to Fox News ahead of the peace deals signing ceremony, says the normalization agreements will put pressure on the Palestinians to also come to the negotiating table or they would be “left out in the cold.”

“We’re going to have a lot of other countries joining us very soon,” Trump says. “And the Palestinians will ultimately come in too.

“And you’re going to have peace in the Middle East without being stupid and shooting everybody, and killing everybody, and having blood all over the sand.”

AFP

Bahrain top diplomat arrives at White House ahead of ceremony

Trump greets the Bahraini foreign minister at the White House. The UAE delegation will soon arrive.

The US president and Abdullatif al-Zayani do not shake hands due to coronavirus concerns.

Trump will meet with the foreign ministers individually before the ceremony.

Netanyahu will soon arrive at the White House and will also briefly sit down with the US president.

Foreign Minister Ashkenazi thanks Trump for peace efforts

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who was not invited to the White House ceremony, hails the upcoming peace deal signing from Jerusalem.

 

Gantz praises normalization deals, frets over F-35 sales to UAE

Defense Minister Benny Gantz lauds the normalization agreement due to be signed in Washington between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, while expressing concerns over both the effects it could have on the Palestinian front and the apparently related sale of F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

Speaking to military correspondents on a wide variety of topics, Gantz stresses that the deal — which he was not informed of until after it had been brokered by his political rival Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump — was an overwhelmingly positive development for Israel and its situation in the region.

“I can only praise this,” he says.

He notes that while normalizing ties with faraway countries was undoubtedly a good thing, it was “also important to make peace with our neighbors” and calls for renewing diplomatic efforts with the Palestinians. Gantz also adds that the UAE and Bahrain were specifically countries “whom we’ve never fought and who have never fought us, not even through proxies.”

The defense minister says the proposed sale of the advanced warplanes to the Emiratis was a “serious matter” with potentially major ramifications on Israel’s military advantage in the region.

In this August 5, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Air Force, an F-35 fighter jet pilot and crew prepare for a mission at Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. (Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury/US Air Force via AP)

The defense minister says that his ministry will work with the Pentagon to determine if and how such a sale would harm Israel’s so-called “Qualitative Military Edge,” which the US is legally bound to maintain, and what could be done to maintain the Jewish state’s superior capabilities.

Gantz refuses to comment on the specific ways his ministry was proposing that the US could offset the damage — with some combination of restricting the UAE’s use of the F-35 in some way or selling even more powerful weaponry to Israel — but said that this will be an ongoing discussion for the coming months.

“It is an American prerogative — not an Israeli prerogative — to decide whom to sell [the F-35 to],” Gantz notes.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks to local leaders from southern Israel, August 19, 2020. (Oded Karni/GPO)

The defense minister, who had just finished meeting with the new head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, prior to the briefing, says he did not expect that there would be a large-scale outbreak of violence by Palestinians in response to the normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.

However, he notes that the Palestinian issue was growing increasingly untenable, with no diplomatic progress toward a political solution to the conflict, deepening economic woes for the Palestinian Authority and the added stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gantz says that while there was no indication of an imminent uprising, there were concerns of a “straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

Judah Ari Gross

IDF-run drive-in virus testing sites to close as labs swamped

The Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command will close most of its drive-in coronavirus testing sites until the end of the week because laboratories are unable to keep up with demand, the military says.

The IDF says most of the 20 drive-in sites that it operates will close tomorrow morning and remain closed until Friday. Facilities in Petah Tikva, Netanya, Givat Shmuel, Holon and Ashdod will remain open due to large-scale outbreaks in those cities.

By closing the facilities for two days, the labs will be able to catch up, according to the military. More than 55,000 test swabs are taken each day, while laboratories across the country are only able to perform roughly 50,000 tests daily, the IDF says.

Judah Ari Gross

Heading to White House, Netanyahu hails ‘exciting and historic day’ for Israel

In a tweet from Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it’s an “exciting and historic day for Israel.”

“On my way to make peace for peace, peace from strength,” tweets the prime minister, ahead of his expected arrival at the White House.

UAE FM enters White House, meets with Trump

The United Arab Emirates delegation has now arrived at the White House.

The UAE’s foreign minister heads directly for a meeting with US President Trump.

 

President Rivlin applauds peace deals, invites Gulf leaders to Jerusalem

President Reuven Rivlin applauds the Bahraini and UAE leaders for their “courage” to make peace with Israel.

He invites them to Jerusalem.

 

Netanyahu arrives at White House to sign historic peace deals

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu pull up at the White House.

They are met by US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara to the White House for the Abraham Accords ceremony on September 15, 2020 (GPO screenshot)

The two leaders wave at each other rather than shaking hands due to COVID-19 concerns.

None of them are wearing face masks.

with Jacob Magid

Trump meets Netanyahu, says 5-6 more countries ready to make peace with Israel

Trump gives Netanyahu a “special token of affection,” namely a key to the White House.

“You’ve been an amazing leader for a very long time,” says Trump.

Israel “is getting peace,” says the US president.

Trump says, “We have many nations ready to follow” and make peace with Israel.

He says there are “at least five or six countries coming along very quickly.”

“They’re warring countries but they’re tired of fighting,” he says.

“You’re going to see a lot of great activity. There’s going to be peace in the Middle East,” adds Trump.

But he declines to name the countries.

Trump says the differences with Israel over the F-35 sales to the UAE “is going to be very easy to work out.”

Netanyahu says Trump has “the hearts of the people of Israel.”

Trump says he’s going to make a ‘great deal’ with Iran

Trump also predicts a new Iran deal after the November election.

“I’m going to make a great deal with Iran… I will help them in any way possible. But they should wait until after the election. Because Sleepy Joe Biden would be a dream for them,” says Trump in the Oval Office.

On Saudi Arabia, adds the US president:”Great things will happen.”

He says “We’re talking to the Palestinians too” and they’ll join “at the right time.”

Trump declines to comment on West Bank annexation.

Trump says Israel is a “warring nation,” but seeks peace.

“Even Bibi [Netanyahu] gets tired of war,” he says, to laughter.

J Street president hails peace deals, says Palestinian issue must be addressed

WASHINGTON — The president of the liberal, pro-Israel J Street Lobby lauds the peace agreements Israel will be signing later today with the UAE and Bahrain, but clarifies that they don’t “fundamentally address the Palestinian issue.”

The comments by Jeremy Ben Ami to The Times of Israel come after Trump administration senior adviser Jared Kushner said today’s White House ceremony “marks the beginning of the end of the Israel-Arab conflict.”

On Friday, White House Special Envoy on Iran Brian Hook said “historians will look back on these two peace agreements as the beginning of the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Ben Ami argues that while the latest normalization agreements are positive developments that gives Israel a “taste” of what could be, the Jewish state is still “not fundamentally accepted in the region” and won’t be until it resolves the Palestinian issue.

Asked whether he sees the Arab Peace Initiative as offering the proper formula for Middle East Peace, Ben Ami insists that it is.

First adopted by the Arab League in 2002, the Arab Peace Initiative promises Israel full diplomatic relations with the entire Muslim world in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines.

Despite agreeing to normalized ties with Israel before a two-state solution is reached with the Palestinians, Ben Ami says the new peace agreements do not upend the Arab Peace Initiative.

However, he admits “maybe there’s updating [to the API] that needs to happen, which a new president and new administration could look at doing.”

Jacob Magid

Hundreds gather on White House lawn for ceremony; most are masked

WASHINGTON — Hundreds have gathered at the White House South Lawn, waiting for the signing ceremony to begin within the hour.

Guests sit in white folding chairs set up closely next to one another in rows of ten.

Many of the attendees are wearing masks, which were encouraged but not required by the White House.

Jacob Magid

Jewish community of UAE: With treaty, ‘our prayers have been answered’

The Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates says today’s peace treaty with Israel could have a “transformative effect” on Muslim-Jewish cooperation across the Middle East.

“We’ve been praying for this day for years, and today, those prayers have been answered. This moment will forever redefine life in the Middle East,” says Ross Kriel, the president of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, says.

“The news that Bahrain followed thereafter gives us even greater hope for the future of a peaceful, welcoming, and inspired Middle East –– one in which this type of interfaith harmony is not the exception, but the norm.”

Kriel is representing his congregation at the White House ceremony together with its chief rabbi, New York-based Yehuda Sarna.

“What distinguishes Abraham –– in the Torah, the Bible and the Quran –– is not that he was the first to make a covenant with God, but that he was the first to establish peace agreements with others,” Sarna says, referring to name of the agreement to be signed today.

“Bearing his name, the Abraham Accords honor that legacy of peace by opening a new chapter of coexistence.”

Raphael Ahren

Trump: Additional peace deals possible before the election

During Oval Office remarks with the UAE foreign minister, Trump also addresses prospective peace deals between Israel and additional, unnamed Arab states.

He says some of the accords could be announced before the November US election.

“It’s just a matter of getting it done,” says Trump.

The US president also affirms his intention to forge a new nuclear deal with Iran, which he also claims would happen in a very short time.

On the Palestinians, Trump says: “Well I think they see what’s happening.”

He notes his decision to end US aid to the Palestinians, because “we were not being treated properly, there were not saying nice things. For many years.”

“We’ve been given very strong signals that they’d like to be a part of what’s happening,” says Trump, referring to the peace deals.

But he says other “very important” countries in the Middle East will make peace with Israel first.

“They’d be here today frankly, if we wanted them,” he adds.

In show of bipartisan support, Democrats attend peace signing

Guests chat as senior administration officials and their wives slowly make their way onto the South Lawn, ahead of the signing of the peace treaties.

The press is situated off to the side and unable to mingle with guests

Signifying the relatively unified support for the normalization agreement, among the guests are roughly half a dozen senior Democratic House members, including Ted Deutch, Brad Scnneider, Elaine Luria, and Josh Gottheimer

Jacob Magid

WATCH: Israel about to sign peace deals with UAE, Bahrain

The ceremony at the White House is set to begin in the coming minutes.

A livestream can be viewed here, and The Times of Israel will also be liveblogging the developments.

 

Trump: We are here to ‘change the course of history’

The ceremony begins.

US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Emirati and Bahraini foreign ministers walk out to the balcony to furious applause and a standing ovation.

“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” says Trump.

This is the “dawn of a new Middle East,” says the US president.

He says more peace treaties will follow.

President Trump hosts the Abraham Accords ceremony, September 15, 2020, as (from left) Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani look on. (White House screenshot)

Trump says the three countries will open embassies and increase cooperation in a range of areas.

“They’re going to work together, they are friends,” he says.

Trump says the deal opens the doors to Muslims to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The deals set the course for regional peace, “something that nobody thought was possible, certainly not in this day and age, maybe decades from now,” adds Trump.

Trump: This is the end of the lie that Al-Aqsa is under attack

Trump thanks top US officials for their effort.

He says people of the Middle East have been held back by “lies and treacheries” for decades.

He says one of those lies is that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is under attack by Israel.

“These lies passed down from generation to generation,” fueling conflict, says Trump.

But the countries are “breaking free from the failed approaches of the past,” says the US president.

President Trump hosts the Abraham Accords ceremony, September 15, 2020, as (from left) Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani look on. (White House screenshot)

“The people of the Middle East will no longer allow hatred of Israel” to foment terrorism, says Trump.

He repeats that other countries will soon make peace with Israel.

“This is an incredible day for the world,” says Trump.

“It’s a very important day for the world. It’s a very important day for peace.”

Netanyahu: This is a pivot of history, a new dawn of peace

Netanyahu speaks next, hailing the “historic day.”

“This day is a pivot of history. It heralds a new dawn of peace,” says Netanyahu.

He thanks Trump for his “decisive leadership” and for his positions on Iran and the peace process.

“You’ve successfully brokered the historic peace we are signing today, a peace that has broad support in Israel, in the Middle East, in America — indeed, in the entire world,” says Netanyahu.

The deal is “bringing hope to all the children of Abraham.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, watched by President Donald Trump, speaks at the Abraham Accords ceremony at the White House, September 15, 2020 (White House screenshot)

“To all of Israel’s friends in the Middle East, those who are with us today and those who will join us tomorrow, I say salaam alaikum,” adds Netanyahu.

Other countries will follow, says Netanyahu. “This [was] unimaginable a few years ago, but with resolve, determination, a fresh look at how peace is done,” it is happening, says Netanyahu. “Thank you, Mr. President.”

Netanyahu: This peace can bring end to Arab-Israeli conflict ‘once and for all’

Netanyahu says he knows the price of war personally, referring to the death of his brother Yoni Netanyahu.

“I know the price of war,” says Netanyahu in remarks mirroring those made by former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin during his signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.

“The people of Israel well know the price of war. I know the price of war. I was wounded in battle. A fellow soldier died in my arms. My brother Yoni lost his life while rescuing hostages,” he says.

“This peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states and ultimately it can end the Arab Israeli conflict once and for all,” he says, while avoiding referring directly to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Despite the many challenges and hardships that we all face, let us pause for a moment to appreciate this remarkable moment,” and “let us put all cynicism aside,” he says.

“Let us feel on this day the pulse of history. For long after the pandemic is gone, the peace we make today will endure.”

Netanyahu stresses that “ultimately, strength brings peace.”

with Raphael Ahren, Jacob Magid

UAE foreign minister: I am here to extend a hand of peace

The UAE’s foreign minister,  Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, speaks next.

“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.

“Today, we are already witnessing a change at the heart of the Middle East, a change that will send hope around the world.”

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan addresses the Abraham Accords ceremony, September 15, 2020 (White House screenshot)

As peace treaties signed, rocket sirens sound in southern Israel

Incoming rocket sirens sound in the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, sending tens of thousands of residents rushing to bomb shelters.

There are no immediate reports of injuries. The Israel Defense Forces says it is looking into the matter.

The rockets came during the signing in Washington, DC of normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Judah Ari Gross

UAE foreign minister backs Palestinian statehood hopes

The UAE foreign minister continues: “We are witnessing today a new trend that will create a better path for the Middle East.”

“This new vision is not a slogan that we raise for political gain as everyone is looking for a more prosperous future,” he adds.

The Emirati top diplomat says Abu Dhabi believes “the role of the US in the Middle East is positive. And this belief [is] evidenced by today’s accord.”

“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,” says Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

He also thanks Netanyahu for “halting” West Bank annexation plans as part of the agreement.

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan smiles at Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after completing his address at the Abraham Accords ceremony, September 15, 2020 (White House screenshot)

Bahrain’s top diplomat: Today is a truly historic occasion

Bahrain’s foreign minister speaks.

“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,” say Abdullatif bin Rashid.

It’s a “historic step on the road for genuine and lasting peace” across the region.

“For too long, the Middle East has been set back by conflict and mistrust, causing untold destruction” and thwarting hopes of the region’s “youngest and brightest.”

“Now I am convinced we can change that,” he says.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid addresses the Abraham Accords ceremony, September 15, 2020 (White House screenshot)

He thanks Bahrain’s king, “for this vision of peace for the region” based on “understanding and trust” between nations.

And he congratulates the UAE for its own accord.

“We welcome and appreciate this step,” he tells Netanyahu.

“In particular I want to express my deep appreciation to President Donald Trump and his administration,” he says to loud applause.

“Your efforts…made peace a reality,” he adds.

with Jacob Magid

Southern residents say rockets intercepted

Residents of Ashkelon and Ashdod report seeing signs that Iron Dome interceptor missiles were fired into the air, apparently in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

There is no immediate confirmation from the IDF that the air defense system was activated.

Judah Ari Gross

Bahrain’s foreign minister says Israeli-Palestinian peace deal must be reached

Bahrain’s foreign minister says peace between Israel and the Palestinians must be reached.

“Today’s agreement is an important first step and it’s now incumbent upon us” to follow up with an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, he says.

He adds: “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.”

Israel signs peace treaties with UAE, Bahrain

Representatives of the four countries (including the US as a witness) sign the historic documents on the White House South Lawn, to huge applause.

The agreements normalize ties between Israel and the UAE and between Israel and Bahrain.

(From left): Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan sign peace treaties and the Abraham Accords at the White House, September 15, 2020 (White House screenshot)

2 Israelis injured by rocket shrapnel in Ashdod

Two people are lightly injured by shrapnel in the city of Ashdod from an apparent rocket attack launched from the Gaza Strip, medics say.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says the two men in their 30s sustained light injuries from broken glass. The service says four other people suffered anxiety attacks as a result of the attack.

It is not immediately clear if the shrapnel came from a rocket or Iron Dome interceptor missiles fired at the incoming projectiles.

— Judah Ari Gross

Historic peace treaties signed between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain; smiles, but no handshakes because of COVID

Rather than shaking hands upon signing the peace agreements, the Israeli, Bahraini and UAE leaders turn to each other placing their hands on their chest and bowing slightly, in apparent coronavirus protocol.

The leaders are now signing the Abraham Accords.

The deals are all being signed four times: In English, Hebrew and two in Arabic.

Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan pose with the signed Abraham Accords, September 15, 2020 (White House screenshot)

with Jacob Magid

Historic peace ceremony ends at White House

The crowd stands to applaud as the leaders finish signing the final copies of the peace deals.

The band plays the four leaders off the stage and up the balcony stairs.

They wave to the crowd at the top of the stairs and head back into the White House holding their respective peace agreements in hand.

The ceremony ends.

Watch the video from the start of the ceremony here:

Jacob Magid

US, Dutch ambassadors condemn rocket fire during treaties’ signing

Netanyahu adviser Aaron Klein takes to Twitter to attack the Palestinian terrorists who fired rockets at Israeli towns during the peace treaty signing in Washington.

“Gaza terrorist cowards are desperately launching rockets at Jews because they know this new era of peace will isolate their paymasters in Tehran,” he writes. “Iran-backed terrorists are not going to stop peace for 1 sec[ond] as the children of Abraham come together to forge the path of real peace.”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also addresses the rockets in comments to Israeli reporters.

“So sorry to hear that, that’s terrible. The job is not over, there’s more work to do,” says Friedman, warning Palestinian terrorists against threatening Israel.

The Dutch ambassador to Israel also condemns the rocket fire in a tweet.

Raphael Ahren, Jacob Magid

IDF confirms 2 rockets fired at Ashkelon, Ashdod; 1 intercepted

The IDF says two rockets were fired at Ashkelon and Ashdod, one of which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

One rocket appears to have struck the city of Ashdod, causing light damage to a building and a street. Two men were lightly injured by shrapnel in the city, medics say.

Judah Ari Gross

Hamas condemns UAE, Bahrain peace treaties with Israel

The Hamas terror group condemns the UAE and Bahrain for inking peace deals with Israel.

“The normalization agreements between Bahrain, the UAE, and the Zionist entity are not worth the paper they were written on,” a spokesperson says. “Our people insists on continuing its struggle until it secures the return of all its rights.”

The statement comes shortly after two rockets are fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

Peace, then prayer: Jews hold afternoon service on White House lawn

Over two dozen religious Jews have gathered for the mincha afternoon prayer service on the south lawn of the White House upon the conclusion of the peace signing ceremony.

Jacob Magid

Israel’s UN ambassador signals Jerusalem hasn’t given up on annexation

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations says the Jewish state is still eager to annex parts of the West Bank.

Gilad Erdan is asked by reporters about the UAE foreign minister’s comment thanking Netanyahu for halting the controversial annexation.

He replies, according to Ynet: “He said stopping and not canceling, and we never gave up on our sovereignty.”

“When we want to extend our sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, we need the US’ support,” adds Erdan from the White House South Lawn, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

with Jacob Magid

The peace treaties have been signed. But what do they say?

Even after the peace treaties are signed, the specific texts of the agreements have yet to be made public.

Jerusalem, Tel Aviv landmarks light up in tribute to peace deals

The walls of Jerusalem’s Old City light up with the flags of the UAE and Bahrain, along with Israel and the US, in a nod to the peace deals signed today.

In Tel Aviv, the word “peace” is projected on city hall in Hebrew, English and Arabic.

The flags of the US, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain are projected on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, on September 15, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The Tel Aviv municipality building is lit up with the word “Peace”, in Hebrew, Arabic and English. September 15, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
The Tel Aviv municipality building is lit up with the word “Peace”, in Hebrew, Arabic and English. September 15, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
The flags of the US, United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain are projected on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, on September 15, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Schools now expected to close Thursday due to spike in virus cases

Ministers have decided not to close schools on Wednesday, as was suggested due to soaring coronavirus rates, according to Hebrew media reports.

But the government is expected to shutter schools starting Thursday, rather than on Friday, when the national lockdown begins.

Poll: 86% of Palestinians believe UAE treaty only serves Israeli interests

A poll finds that 86% of Palestinians believe the normalization agreement with the UAE serves only Israel’s interests and not their own.

The poll, carried out by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, was conducted September 9-12 and surveyed 1,270 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

with AP

Netanyahu, Trump, UAE and Bahrain FMs now meeting for lunch

After the signing of the peace treaties, Netanyahu joins the UAE and Bahraini foreign ministers and US President Trump at a festive lunch meeting.

Israeli, Bahraini and Dubai TV hold joint broadcast

Israel’s Channel 12 holds a joint broadcast with the anchors of Dubai TV and a Bahraini network, which is simultaneously aired in Israel, the UAE and Bahrain in honor of the peace agreements.

A joint Israeli-Bahraini-Emirati TV broadcast on September 15, 2020 (screenshot: Channel 12)

 

Rocket in Ashdod shattered storefronts, injuring 2 people

The rocket fired from Gaza at southern Israel shattered storefronts in the southern city of Ashdod, according to Channel 12.

Two people are hurt by the shards: A 62-year-old man, who is in moderate condition, and a 28-year-old man.

A woman with epilepsy who was in the area had a serious attack and was treated by medics, the report says.

At luncheon, Trump says peace deals ‘something we should all be proud of’

Reporters are briefly allowed into the lunch meeting of the US, Israeli, Bahraini and UAE senior officials.

Netanyahu, seated across from Trump, jokes that he isn’t sure he wants to be seated with press behind his back.

Trump praises the leaders for signing the accords.

“It’s something we should all be proud of,” says the US president.

The White House luncheon on September 15, 2020 with US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain in attendance (Courtesy/White House Pool)

Top Arab MK on treaties: This is not a peace deal, it’s an arms deal

Arab Israeli lawmakers are condemning the White House ceremony and establishment of ties between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel.

“The ceremony in Washington is not a historic peace deal, but a historic arms deal,” tweets Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh. “It’s accepting a reality in which the Palestinians live under occupation without independence or basic rights in exchange for planes and cyber systems. Few businessmen will benefit from this day, and everyone knows there is not a single person in the entire Middle East who will feel more free or more secure.”

After the signing, “the occupation will continue tomorrow. The Palestinians will live under military rule, settlers will continue to steal their lands and IDF soldiers will continue to man checkpoints and enter homes,” says Odeh.

Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman remarks on Twitter: “There were no Palestinians on the White House lawn this evening — this is not what peace looks like.”

Abbas: There can be no peace in Middle East without Palestinian state

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s office says peace in the Middle East is not possible without an Israeli-Palestinian accord, in his first response to the normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE and between Israel and Bahrain in Washington earlier today.

“The main problem is not between the countries that signed the agreements and the Israeli occupation authority, but with the Palestinian people who are suffering under occupation,” Abbas says, according to the official Wafa news agency.

The statement, according to Wafa, continues: “The leadership warned, once again, that no peace, security or stability will be achieved for anyone in the region without ending the occupation and the Palestinian people achieving their full rights as stipulated in the international legitimacy resolutions.

It also warned that “attempts to bypass the Palestinian people and their leadership represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization will have serious repercussions, for which the US administration and the Israeli occupation authority will bear responsibility.”

Health Ministry logs over 4,000 new coronavirus cases since last night

The Health Ministry records another 4,034 coronavirus infections between Monday night and Tuesday night, bringing the number of active cases in the country to 42,528.

Of these, 534 are in serious condition, 138 of them on ventilators. Another 213 are in moderate condition, with the rest displaying mild or no symptoms.

Another six deaths are logged since this morning, bringing the toll to 1,147.

The data shows that 9.7 percent of test results that came back today are positive. It says 47,529 tests were conducted yesterday, and 33,861 so far today.

With Israel poised to head to a nationwide lockdown on Friday, the Health Ministry data shows that 3,981 new diagnoses yesterday were outside the country’s virus hotspots — namely the cases were not recorded in cities flagged as “red” due to high infection rates, among returnees from abroad or among residents of nursing homes.

Israel-Bahrain peace deal includes pledge for Palestinian accord — report

The Israel-Bahrain peace declaration explicitly calls for efforts to achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, according to Haaretz.

The documents have yet to be formally released.

Trump now says 7-9 countries ready to make peace with Israel, including Saudis

US President Donald Trump is now saying there are between seven and nine countries ready to make peace with Israel, after estimating just hours ago there were five or six such states.

Asked if he expected Saudi Arabia to follow suit, Trump says “I do. I spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia,” adding it would come “at the right time.”

“I think seven or eight or nine” more countries would normalize relations with Israel, he says.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony at the White House after they participated in the signing of the Abraham Accords, where the countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognize Israel, in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

with AFP

US Jewish groups hail peace accords between Israel, Bahrain, UAE

American Jewish organizations are praising the normalization deals between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, signed at the White House earlier today.

The American Jewish Committee says: “The peace agreements between Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE have flipped conventional wisdom on its head.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who attended the signing, says in a statement: “I thank President Trump’s administration for its leadership in brokering these accords. The bold initiatives undertaken by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates His Highness Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and King of Bahrain His Majesty Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in forging this new path toward peace will usher in a new era of regional stability, prosperity, and opportunity.”

The leaders of B’nai B’rith, also guests at the event, say it was “unforgettable.”

“What we witnessed was something beyond anyone’s imagination just a few years ago,” its president, Charles O. Kaufman, says. “The historic signing of the Abraham Accords and treaties was less about hope and promise and more about reality and what is happening in real time. It is more about creating real opportunities, advancements, innovations, not some platform for mere dreams and aspirations. Finally, promises and failures of the past gave way to a far better option — trusting, respecting parties developing a specific plan for prosperity, security and peace. Today was an unforgettable day of accomplishment.”

“Today marked a tremendous turning point in the history of Israel and the Jewish people, and in the Middle East,” adds its CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin. “The signing of the Abraham Accords, and the agreements between Israel and the UAE, and Israel and Bahrain demonstrate that peace can be achieved when there is the good will to achieve it.”

Full text of the Abraham Accords Declaration

The White House releases the full text of the Abraham Accords declaration.

The Abraham Accords declaration (White House)

Full text of Israel-Bahrain ‘Declaration of Peace’

Below is the full text of the Israel and Bahrain “Declaration of Peace,” as released by the White House.

In the document, Israel and Bahrain agree “to establish full diplomatic relations.”

They also commit to “continuing the efforts to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Full text of UAE-Israel ‘Treaty of Peace’

The White House also releases the full text of the (longer) Israel-UAE agreement, which includes the same language on the Palestinians as the Bahrain declaration.

The document includes annexes on finance and investment; civil aviation; tourism; innovation, trade and economic relations; science, technology and peaceful uses of outer space; environment; telecommunication and post; healthcare; agriculture and food security; water; energy; maritime arrangements; and legal cooperation.

Full text of the peace declaration between Israel and the UAE (White House)
Full text of the peace declaration between Israel and the UAE (White House)
Full text of the peace declaration between Israel and the UAE (White House)
Full text of the peace declaration between Israel and the UAE (White House)
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At luncheon, Trump says peace deals ‘something we should all be proud of’

Reporters are briefly allowed into the lunch meeting of the US, Israeli, Bahraini and UAE senior officials.

Netanyahu, seated across from Trump, jokes that he isn’t sure he wants to be seated with press behind his back.

Trump praises the leaders for signing the accords.

“It’s something we should all be proud of,” says the US president.

The White House luncheon on September 15, 2020 with US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain in attendance (Courtesy/White House Pool)