Netanyahu joins Bahrain, UAE ministers at W.House for peace signing

Senior adviser to the prime minister and deputy head of the national security council Reuven Azar

Bahrain, situated about 200 km to the northwest of the westernmost point of the UAE in the Persian Gulf, becomes the fourth Arab nation after the UAE, Jordan and Egypt to establish relations with Israel since the Jewish State's creation in 1948.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz lauds the normalization agreement due to be signed in Washington between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, while expressing concerns over both the effects it could have on the Palestinian front and the apparently related sale of F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

With Trump up for re-election on November 3, the accords could help shore up support among pro-Israel Christian evangelical voters in the U.S., an important part of his political base.

The defense minister says that his ministry will work with the Pentagon to determine if and how such a sale would harm Israel's so-called "Qualitative Military Edge", which the USA is legally bound to maintain, and what could be done to maintain the Jewish state's superior capabilities.

While critics have noted that such deals ignore Palestinians and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is hoped that the deals would be the start of warmer Arab-Israeli relations. So far, the Saudis, whose king is custodian of Islam's holiest sites and rules the world's largest oil exporter, have signalled they are not ready.

On Tuesday the UAE and Bahrain will sign agreements toward normalizing ties with Israel. There was no word on whether the Saudis would attend, though their quiet acquiescence to the agreements has been seen as crucial.

Although a diplomatic win for Netanyahu, the ceremony takes place while he faces criticism at home of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and a corruption trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust that have led to frequent street protests.

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The official declined to provide specifics.

He contends White House aides had told colleagues who will be among those on the South Lawn for the historic event they should not wear masks "because it looks better".

The agreements won't end active wars, but supporters believe they could pave the way for a broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement after decades of enmity and only two previous peace deals.

Some differences remain despite warming ties.

"HISTORIC day for PEACE in the Middle East", tweeted Trump, trumpeting the imminent completion of "landmark deals that no one thought was possible".

"They're very wealthy countries for the most part. some are extraordinarily, like UAE", Trump told "Fox & Friends" in an interview before the ceremony.

Amid his presidential re-election campaign, Trump last month helped broker the accord, under which Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank. Trump did not name the countries he is negotiating with - but they could include Oman, Sudan, Morocco and others.

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