With Netanyahu on phone, elated Trump predicts ‘one unified family’ in Mideast
Announcing Israel-Sudan peace, US president invites reporters to hear call with Israel, Sudan leaders, says Saudis will sign up, ultimately Iran too; PM backs ‘better’ Iran deal
With the leaders of Israel and Sudan on the phone in the Oval Office, a euphoric US President Donald Trump on Friday predicted peace throughout the Middle East and wider region, including between Israel and even Iran — in a “unified family” as never before.
In extraordinary scenes in the Oval Office, Trump brought reporters into the room to hear much of the call, during which he announced that Israel and Sudan had agreed to make peace, and then set out far wider ambitions and predictions.
He said “at leave five” other countries “want to come in” and join the UAE, Bahrain and now Sudan, added that “many more” will follow, indicated that Saudi Arabia would be one of them, and predicted that ultimately Iran would follow suit.
After Trump stressed that a new accord with Iran would be contingent on the regime not getting nuclear weapons, Netanyahu weighed in to say that he would not oppose “a better deal” with Iran.
Asked by Trump, early in the part of the conversation heard by reporters, to comment on the new normalization process between Israel and Arab states, Netanyahu called it “mind-boggling.”
“It changes the lives of people,” he said. “We’re not engaging in bloodshed; we’re not engaging in antagonism. We’re engaging in cooperation for the present and the future…. We’re seeing the fruits of peace right now… days after signing these agreements,” he enthused. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”
Netanyahu noted that while “Iran is unhappy, Hezbollah is unhappy, Hamas is unhappy” with the series of accords, “but most everybody else is very happy and they should be, because peace is a good thing… What does it feel like? It’s amazing.”
Trump then asked Netanyahu about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden: “Do you think Sleepy Joe would have made this deal? Somehow, I don’t think so.”
Netanyahu, nonplussed and seeking to avoid a partisan response, said carefully, “Well, Mr. President, one thing I can tell you. We appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America, and we appreciate what you’ve done enormously.” What was happening, said the Israeli prime minister, was “a pivot of history… registered in the history books.”
Trump then predicted that “ultimately” Iran would “maybe will become a member of this whole thing” and get on board the peace process. “I’d love to help Iran,” he said. “They’ve gone from a rich country to a poor country in a period of three years. And I’d love to get them back on track. They just can’t have nuclear weapons,” he said, and needed to stop shouting “Death to Israel.”
“Ultimately,” Trump predicted, “they’ll all be one unified family. It’ll be an amazing thing. Probably has never happened in the Middle East.”
Trump was asked whether Israeli and Sudanese leaders would be invited to Washington for a signing ceremony, akin to the one held last month with Netanyahu along with the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain after those countries agreed to normalize ties with the Jewish state.
“We will have them along with some other countries that you’ll be hearing about coming, probably simultaneously,” Trump responded.
With other countries joining the peace process, the US president then spoke of a “big reunion at the end, where everybody’s here, and everybody’s going to be signed,” including the Saudis. “We expect that Saudi Arabia will be one of those countries,” he said, noting that the Saudi king and crown prince are “highly respected,” as are the leaders of the UAE. “They’ll all come together; we’re going to have a big, beautiful party at the end,” he said.
He then reiterated that Iran would be involved “at the very end.”
Asked by a reporter for his thoughts on this, Netanyahu noted that when he spoke in Congress against the president Obama-backed 2015 JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with Iran, “I didn’t say I was opposed to any deal; I said I was opposed to that deal” — because it didn’t “require any change in behavior from Iran.” The regime was able to move ahead with ballistic missiles, uranium enrichment, and terrorism, he noted. “If a new deal is offered… a different deal is offered, it would be welcome,” he said, but that could only happen if Iran faced “strong opposition to its aggression of the kind of stance that has been followed by you, Mr. President.”
That kind of better deal would be welcome, but “so far that has not been available,” he said.
Trump concluded that the Iranians are “tired of fighting too. They’re tired of what’s going on. Those are great people. They want an end to it.
“If we win the election, one of the first calls I’ll get will be from Iran: ‘Let’s make a deal,'” he said, noting that, like Russia, “they don’t want me to win… But I think we’re going to win.”