President Trump Says United Arab Emirates Will Open Diplomatic Ties With Israel

President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office Thursday, (Aug. 13). Trump said the United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties as part of a deal to halt the annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state. White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is at right. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday (Aug. 13) that the United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties as part of a deal to halt the annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to have active diplomatic ties to Israel and only the third Arab nation to do so.

Trump tweeted a statement from the countries, acknowledging the deal. He then told reporters in the Oval Office that it was “a truly historic moment.”

“Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

Ric Worshill, executive director of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship, praised President Trump for his work in pursuing peace in the Middle East, but said it’s too early to tell if the diplomatic relationship will extend past paper.

“I’m just looking forward to it working; I can’t say that it will,” Worshill said. “It depends upon the parties involved, whether they’re going to honor their obligations. I don’t know if this is … a ploy; I can’t tell you that.”

Worshill said it’s common for groups in the region to make treaties and arrangements and immediately break them.

“I’m just praying that it’s real, and that it’s a way to start to get some peace, start to get groups like Hezbollah and Hamas defunded and inactive,” he said.

The recognition grants a rare diplomatic win to Trump ahead of the November election, as his efforts to see an end to the war in Afghanistan have yet to come to fruition and efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians have made no headway.

For Israel, the announcement comes after years of claims from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government enjoys closer ties to Arab nations than publicly acknowledged. Netanyahu has sought to build settlements on lands sought by the Palestinians and embraced a Trump proposal that would allow him to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank while granting Palestinians limited autonomy in other areas.

For the UAE, home to skyscraper-studded Dubai and the rolling, oil-rich sand dunes of Abu Dhabi, it further burnishes its international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in the Middle East despite being governed by autocratic rulers. It also puts the UAE out first in a regional recognition race among neighboring Gulf Arab states.

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Source: Baptist Press