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Trump: ‘We Mark the Dawn of a New Middle East’
(L-R) Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House, September 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Trump: ‘We Mark the Dawn of a New Middle East’

Historic day in Washington as Abraham Accords are signed

Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the United States signed the historic Abraham Accords at a celebratory White House ceremony Tuesday, marking the first time since the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty that an Arab country signed such a pact with the Jewish state.

We are here to change the course of history. We mark the dawn of a new Middle East

“We are here to change the course of history,” said US President Donald Trump in his remarks on the White House steps. “We mark the dawn of a new Middle East.” The president commended the three leaders at his side, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, for taking a “stride toward a future … of peace and prosperity.”

Following Trump, Netanyahu expressed “profound gratitude” to his Arab counterparts, calling the agreements to normalize relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain “a pivot of history” which “heralds a new dawn of peace.” Netanyahu also thanked Trump for “his decisive leadership” and for standing “unequivocally on Israel’s side.”

Thank you … for joining us in bringing hope to all the children of Abraham

“Thank you … for joining us in bringing hope to all the children of Abraham,” Netanyahu said, expressing a desire that Tuesday’s events would help “end the Israeli-Arab conflict once and for all.”

Missing from both Netanyahu and Trump’s remarks, but not from the two Gulf diplomats’, was the issue of Palestine. The UAE’s foreign minister, who was the only one not to speak in English, while hailing the treaty as a harbinger of “change that will set hope around the world,” also praised Netanyahu for “halting the annexation of Palestinian territories.”

A just, comprehensive and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be the foundation, the bedrock, of … peace

Bahrain’s Zayani, meanwhile, reminded Netanyahu that while “today’s agreement is an important first step” on the way to a “lasting peace,” only a “just, comprehensive and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be the foundation, the bedrock, of such peace.”

As if on cue, and to remind the delegates celebrating in Washington of their existence, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets at Israel’s southern towns during Abdullah bin Zayed’s speech. The Israeli army reported that one rocket was intercepted midair, while another struck in the city of Ashdod, leaving one person in fair to serious condition and several others lightly wounded.

Following the speeches, the four men proceeded to sign three documents: one cementing the Israel-UAE pact, another the Israel-Bahrain deal and the third commemorating a general accord among all three nations. The treaties’ substance, and exactly what the three leaders signed, has yet to be made public.

Interestingly, Trump, Netanyahu, Abdullah bin Zayed and Zayani did not shake hands, as the Israeli team has insisted on maintaining strict anti-coronavirus guidelines throughout the trip. Israel continued to pace the world in new cases per capita on Tuesday, notching nearly 5,000 new patients as it prepares to enter a second total lockdown of the country in four months on Friday.

Those present at the signing ceremony were mostly Israeli and American representatives. Despite the administration’s hopes that other Gulf and Arab countries would send ambassadors and high-ranking delegates, only Omani and Sudani personnel were in attendance on the White House lawns.

Earlier in the Oval Office, Trump met separately with Netanyahu and with Abdullah bin Zayed. The president presented the prime minister with the key to the White House, saying Israel was “giving peace and getting peace.” Trump promised that “at least five to six more countries” would join the Abraham Accords, singling out Saudi Arabia as a country that is “very open-minded” and is sure to “come along.”

Asked whether he planned to go through with the reported F-35 fighter jet deal with the UAE, Trump promised to “work that out. It’s going to be an easy thing. They’ve been very loyal to us. We have a great relationship.” Netanyahu has denied reports he agreed not to oppose the arms sale, which would mark a change in Israel’s long-standing policy.

[They want] to make a deal after the [US] elections. We’re going to make a better deal. They’ll be very happy and very rich very quickly

Trump also promised reporters he would strike a deal with Israel’s nemesis, Iran. “[They want] to make a deal after the [US] elections,” the president said of Tehran. “We’re going to make a better deal. They’ll be very happy and very rich very quickly.”

Even Bibi gets tired of war

As to the Palestinians, Trump boasted of cutting payments to Ramallah’s Palestinian Authority, before expressing his wish they rejoin the negotiating table. “Even Bibi gets tired of war,” he joked, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

Before the ceremony, the Jewish Council of the Emirates (JCE), which represents the UAE’s Jewish community, hailed the Abraham Accords as “a peace agreement that can have a transformative effect for Muslim-Jewish understanding and cooperation across the Middle East.”

The JCE’s president, Ross Kriel, and Chief Rabbi of the UAE Yehuda Sarna relayed they have “been praying for this day for years, and today, those prayers have been answered. This moment will forever redefine life in the Middle East.”

Another attendee of the White House ceremony, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who is associate dean and director of Global Social Action Agenda for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Media Line he shed “tears of joy to witness the White House signing.

(L-R) Rabbi Abraham Cooper, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, and Pastor Johnnie Moore attend the Abraham Accord signing ceremony at the White House, September 15, 2020. (Courtesy)

“[I am] so proud that we at SWC contributed to this great day. More to come,” Cooper promised.

Eli Epstein, a businessman who helped to facilitate early contacts between Israel and the UAE, was at the signing ceremony as well. Epstein told The Media Line, “It was an amazing development, great achievement and opens opportunities that are apparent and many not yet apparent. It’s clear to everyone who is familiar with the region that unlike Oslo, this is as much about the people up as the leadership down.”

This peace is going to unlock enormous benefits for businesses, in particular technology-driven businesses. All of a sudden the Middle East is going to be a center for entrepreneurial activity, not just among one country or the other, but as a collective

Jonathan Medved, founder and CEO of the OurCrowd investment platform and one of Israel’s leading businessmen and high-tech investors, said “businesspeople in all of these countries and many others are celebrating today.

“This peace is going to unlock enormous benefits for businesses, in particular technology-driven businesses,” Medved told The Media Line. “All of a sudden the Middle East is going to be a center for entrepreneurial activity, not just among one country or the other, but as a collective.

“There was a headline in the leading UAE newspaper that said, ‘Why should we have to travel 20 hours to Silicon Valley when equally brilliant minds are only three hours away in Tel Aviv?’” he said.

It doesn’t get better than this

“We’re going to work together on solving problems ranging from COVID-19 vaccines and testing, to smart cities and transportation and cybersecurity and drones. It doesn’t get better than this,” Medved said.

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