U.S. President Donald Trump will hold a Sept. 15 signing ceremony for a groundbreaking Middle East agreement normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, a senior White House official said on Tuesday.
As part of the deal, announced at the White House on Aug. 13 following what officials said were 18 months of talks, the Gulf state agreed to normal relations with Israel, while Israel agreed to continue with plans to suspend its annexation of the West Bank.
The senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan would lead the two delegations to the ceremony.
“I am proud to embark next week to Washington, at the invitation of President Trump, to take part in the this historic ceremony at the White House for the foundation of the peace treaty between Israel and the United (Arab) Emirates,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.
Trump and other administration officials have said they expect Saudi Arabia and other countries to follow suit in recognizing Israel.
Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner and other top administration officials accompanied an Israeli delegation last week on the first flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates to celebrate the agreement.
Iran has dismissed the agreement, which also served to firm up opposition to Tehran, a regional power seen by the UAE, Israel and the United States as the main threat in the Middle East.
The deal falls short of any grand Middle East peace plan to resolve decades of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians despite Trump’s pledge to do so.
The White House hope is that more such deals between Israel and the Gulf states will emerge, prompting the Palestinians to join negotiations.
Trump proposed a peace plan in January that heavily favored the Israelis, but it has not advanced in any significant way.
he Palestinian leadership initially called the accord “betrayal” and a “stab in the back of the Palestinian cause,” but has curbed its criticism, according to a draft resolution ahead of an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Wednesday.
The draft, seen by Reuters, does not include a call to condemn, or act against, the Emirates over the U.S.-brokered deal.
The United Arab Emirates is planning to make its first official visit to Israel on Sept. 22, a source familiar with the provisional itinerary said on Monday.
in related news Saudi Arabia told an Arab League meeting on Wednesday it supports all efforts to reach a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
But a statement released by the Saudi foreign ministry on remarks made by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud included no direct mention of a normalisation deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
The prince said Riyadh supported the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the borders before the 1967 Middle East war, with East Jerusalem as its capital, according to the statement. During the 1967 war, Israel captured territory including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it still occupies.
Announced on Aug. 13, the UAE-Israel accord was the first such accommodation between an Arab country and Israel in more than 20 years, and was forged largely through shared fears of Iran.
In comments about the UAE at the Arab League meeting in Cairo, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki referred to the accord as a “surprise”, “a normalisation” and an “earthquake” that hit Arab consensus.
But he avoided strong words such as “betrayal” that were used by Palestinian leaders in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.
Maliki used tougher language against Israel, referring to “colonial and racist occupation”, and accused the United States of blackmail, pressure and assault against Palestinians and some Arab states.
Maliki voiced dismay at the lack of Arab consensus that prevented an emergency Arab summit being held at the Palestinians’ request following the Aug. 13, announcement. He called for an immediate rejection of the accord before the signing ceremony planned at the White House next week.