US President Donald Trump will host a ceremony Tuesday where Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates normalize relations with Israel , redrawing the Middle East’ s diplomatic map – and boosting the Republican ’ s reelection hopes .
The event on the White House South Lawn , attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the UAE , will be the first time Arab nations have established relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 .
“ All sides are excited , ” a senior Trump administration official told reporters .
Hundreds of people are invited to attend and a symbolic handshake between the Arab representatives and Netanyahu is not ruled out, the official said .
“ Coronavirus ( is) in the background of everybody’ s minds, although everybody will have been tested , ” he said . So “ if they are to engage in any sort of physical contact that will be understood. ”
For the Mideast , the deals dubbed the Abraham Accords mark a distinct shift in a decades- old status quo where Arab countries have tried to maintain unity against Israel over its treatment of the stateless Palestinians.
Feeling increasingly abandoned , Palestinian leaders on Sunday urged demonstrations in the occupied territories and outside embassies of the United States , Israel , Bahrain and the UAE to protest what they called “ shameful agreements. ”
But other , powerful forces are transforming the playing field in the region .
– Something for everybody – All the four countries celebrating at the White House share a common hostility to Iran , which Trump has put under crippling economic and diplomatic pressure.
The thaw will also give Israel and its two new Arab partners a big economic opening , just when they are looking to rebuild after the international slowdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump will enjoy the optics of presiding over a historic breakthrough less than 50 days before election day, which opinion polls show he is currently on course to lose .
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After an often bruising, chaotic first term on the diplomatic front , Tuesday’ s event is seen as a rare piece of good news that even some Democratic critics have applauded.
Netanyahu , a close Trump ally who faces a corruption trial and criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic , could also use a dose of good news coverage .
The UAE, meanwhile , has been using the negotiations as part of its campaign to pressure Washington to override Israeli objections and sell it the cutting edge F- 35 warplane .
Trump has keenly promoted weapons sales during his government and would clearly be happy to tout job – creating announcements before the election .
Details of exactly what’ s in the Abraham Accords remain sketchy, with the documents yet to be published .
The White House official said that there would be one common document and then separate bilateral agreements between Israel and the two Arab countries .
Another important element left unclear on the eve of the signing was whether the large crowd expected at the White House would respect anti -coronavirus protocols.
Nearly 195 , 000 people have died from Covid – 19 in the US.
Israel is about to enter a new three- week lockdown to combat surging infections.
And according totally over the past two weeks, Israel is second behind Bahrain for the world ’ s highest coronavirus infection rate.
Trump , rarely seen in a mask , is leading a charge in the United States to lift restrictions, saying that the worst is over and Americans need to get back to normal life .
The senior administration official said mask wearing was encouraged but “ we’ re not going to require anybody to do so . ”
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