US President Donald Trump has hailed the “dawn of a new Middle East”, as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain signed agreements fully normalising their relations with Israel.
Trump, whose administration brokered the historic deal, spoke as the two Gulf states and Israel signed the accord at the White House in Washington DC.
The Gulf states are just the third and fourth Arab countries to recognise Israel since its founding in 1948.
Before the new accord, the only Arab countries to recognise Israel officially were Egypt and Jordan, who signed peace treaties in 1978 and 1994 respectively.
For decades, most Arab states have boycotted Israel, insisting they would only establish ties after Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians was settled.
However, Trump is now claiming that this is just the start and other Arab countries will soon follow suit.
The Palestinians are urging them not to do so while their disputes remain unsolved.
“After decades of division and conflict, we’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Trump told a crowd of hundreds gathered at the White House on Tuesday.
Trump, the Emirati Foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s foreign minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayan signed the accords with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu said, “This day is a pivot of history; it heralds a new dawn of peace.”
The Abraham Accords, as they have been named, are framed by the Trump administration as a “pathway to peace” for the region and proof of Trump’s credentials as a deal maker.
But Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said only an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories could bring peace to the Middle East.
“Peace, security and stability will not be achieved in the region until the Israeli occupation ends,” he said in a statement after the signing of the deals, AFP news agency reports.
The Israeli army said two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel while the ceremony was under way.