Netanyahu flies to Washington to sign historic peace deals with UAE and Bahrain

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departed for Washington to attend a ceremony at the White House at which he will sign declarations of normalization and peace with senior ministers from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

“On our way to bring peace in exchange for peace,” he tweeted moments before the aircraft took off.

The texts of the agreements have not yet been released, but the two Gulf states have agreed to fully normalize ties with Israel, in a US-brokered diplomatic breakthrough widely seen as a dramatic shift in attitudes toward Israel in parts of the Arab world. The UAE and Bahrain will be Israel’s third and fourth Arab peace partners, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Calling the trip “historic,” Netanyahu told Israelis in a televised address on Sunday evening that he had brought “two peace deals in one month,” and said they would mean an economic boon for Israel.

“That’s always good, but it’s particularly good during the coronavirus,” he said.

The stairs to the flight were adorned with Israeli, American, UAE and Bahraini flags, while the aircraft itself was painted with the word peace in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

The UAE and Bahrain will be represented at the signing ceremony by their foreign ministers, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, respectively.

The Trump administration is said to be working to get representatives of additional Arab nations to attend the signing ceremony as a sign of tacit support for the growing normalization trend.

Israeli press reports have said that the White House is keen on following up the normalization deals with new agreements with Morocco, Sudan and Oman, the last of which publicly welcomed Bahrain’s announcement of a deal this week.

The signing ceremony is still one step short of official ratification under Israeli law, which legal experts have said requires the imprimatur of the cabinet and Knesset for official peace treaties. But support for the agreements is very high in the Knesset and crosses partisan lines, so approval is expected to be overwhelming.

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