Israel, UAE to sign a deal at White House next week

The UAE-Israel ceremony will come just a month after the agreement to establish full diplomatic relations was announced on Aug 13

Washington: Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign their historic deal normalizing relations at a White House ceremony on Sept. 15, officials said Tuesday.

Senior delegations from the two countries will be led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the brother of Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince. U.S. officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ceremony would either be on the South Lawn, the Rose Garden or inside depending on the weather.

Late Tuesday, Netanyahu tweeted he was proud to leave for Washington next week at the invitation of President Trump and to participate in the historic ceremony at the White House to sign the deal with the UAE.

The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency acknowledged Sheikh Abdullah would lead the Emirati delegation to the signing. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s day-to-day ruler named in the joint announcement of the U.S.-brokered deal, apparently will not attend.

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Sheikh Mohammed has not travelled to the US since being named tangentially in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on President Donald Trump and Russian interference in America’s 2016 election. His inclusion stemmed from his mysterious role in a 2017 meeting between a Trump associate and a Russian middleman for Vladimir Putin in Seychelles.

The UAE-Israel ceremony will come just a month after the agreement to establish full diplomatic relations was announced on Aug 13. The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory to Trump as he seeks reelection, and reflected the changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

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That announcement was followed by the first direct commercial flight between the countries and the establishment of telephone links.

The UAE also announced the end of its boycott of Israel, which allows trade and commerce between the oil-rich Emirates and Israel, home to a thriving diamond trade, pharmaceutical companies and tech start-ups.

The Palestinians have rejected the deal as trading away one of the few cards they have in moribund peace talks with Israel to establish its own independent state the Arab boycott of Israel.

The UAE presented the agreement as taking Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank off the table. But Netanyahu insisted the pause was temporary. Abu Dhabi also hopes the deal will allow it to purchase advanced American weaponry, like the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

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