Trump says Saudi Arabia among 7-9 countries expected to make peace with Israel

US president says he spoke with the Saudi king and normalization will come ‘at the right time,’ earlier said 5-6 more countries on path to formal ties with Israel

US President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Washington. Trump is en route to Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Washington. Trump is en route to Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he expected Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel following the diplomatic move taken by Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates at a White House ceremony earlier.

Hours after saying some five or six countries were on the path to peace with Israel, Trump on Tuesday afternoon revised that number to up to nine nations.

Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony of Israel’s normalization agreements with the Abu Dhabi and Manama, and asked if he expected Saudi Arabia to follow the UAE and Bahrain, Trump said: “I do. I spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia,” adding it would come “at the right time.”

He also said he thought “seven or eight or nine” more countries would normalize relations with Israel — up from the “five or six” he had previously mentioned.

Earlier, while hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House before the signing of the Abraham Accords, Trump said, “We’re very far down the road with about five additional countries… Frankly, I think we could have had them here today.”

“We’ll have at least five or six countries coming along very quickly… They want to see peace. They’ve been fighting for a long time…. They’re warring countries but they’re tired of fighting.. You’re going to see a lot of very great activity. It’s going to be peace in the Middle East.” He assessed that “most of the countries… in the Middle East want to sign this deal.”

Answering questions about what Israel gets from the new deals, Trump said, “We’ll be signing up [other] nations… These are very strong agreements. This is serious peace… What Israel gets, the most important thing Israel gets, is peace.”

Israel, said Trump, “is not isolated anymore.”

The Palestinians, he said, “will be a member at the right time… We are talking to the Palestinians. At the right time, they’ll be joining too.”

Far from feeling isolated, Netanyahu chipped in, “Israel doesn’t feel isolated at all. It’s enjoying the greatest diplomatic triumph of its history.” Those who are feeling isolated, says Netanyahu, “are the tyrants of Tehran.”

Agreed Trump, “There’s less isolation for Israel right now than there’s ever been.”

“We love Israel,” he concluded, “and I have great respect for the countries that have stepped up.”

Israel on Tuesday signed landmark normalization deals with two Arab nations at a White House ceremony, with leaders hailing a “new dawn” for peace in the Middle East.

Hundreds of people amassed on the sun-washed South Lawn to witness the signing of agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The bilateral agreements, dubbed the Abraham Accords, formalize the normalization of the Jewish state’s already-thawing relations with the two Arab nations, in line with their common opposition to Iran and its aggression in the region.

Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and the United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan sign the normalization agreements between the countries on the South Lawn of the White House, September 15, 2020 (Avi Ohayon / GPO)

“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Trump said from a balcony overlooking the South Lawn. “After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”

The agreements do not address the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While the UAE, Bahrain and other Arab countries support the Palestinians, the Trump administration has persuaded the two countries not to let that conflict keep them from having normal relations with Israel.

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