Holiday spirit

Netanyahu highlights normalization deals in Christmas greeting

PM says holiday wish for ‘peace on earth’ is manifesting in Middle East, with agreements between Israel and UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a Christmas greeting in a video posted to his social media channels on December 23, 2020. (Screenshot/YouTube)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a Christmas greeting in a video posted to his social media channels on December 23, 2020. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a Christmas greeting on Wednesday, using the holiday message to highlight Israel’s recent normalization agreements with Arab countries.

The Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ takes place on Friday.

“This Christmas, the traditional greeting of ‘Peace on Earth’ will once again be expressed by millions across the globe. This while our world suffers from the terrible COVID-19 pandemic and from far too much violence and conflict,” Netanyahu said in a video posted to his social media channels.

“But remarkably, here in the Middle East, we have been actively making progress in realizing the biblical prophecy of ‘Peace on Earth,’ or at least this part of the earth,” Netanyahu said.

“This past year, and with the active help of the United States and President Trump, we have moved forward with the Abraham Accords, achieving historic breakthroughs between Israel and the Arab world,” he said, listing the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

“After 26 years without a new peace treaty, we’ve had four new agreements in less than four months and this is just the beginning,” Netanyahu said. “This is a new and revolutionary change. It will make a better life, a better place for all the peoples of the Middle East. It will make for a better world.”

Israel signed normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain at the White House in September. Sudan, an Arab-majority state, agreed to a deal in October and Morocco hosted a US-Israel delegation Tuesday to sign agreements.

All four deals were brokered by the Trump administration, with the UAE, Sudan and Morocco receiving significant rewards from the US for opening ties with Israel.

A senior Trump administration official said Tuesday that the White House had offered Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, up to $2 billion in US development aid if it recognizes Israel.

Likud’s Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis said two countries were considered favorites to soon reach a rapprochement with Israel, but refused to name them.

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