The leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign their historic peace accord in the White House in around three weeks, US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday.
Trump, speaking at press conference hours after the deal was announced, praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE’s ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan as “fantastic” partners who had demonstrated “vision and leadership.”
“I look forward to hosting them at the White House very soon to formally sign the agreement,” he told reporters.
“We’ll probably be doing it over the next, I would say, three weeks.”
The summit will evoke memories of previous Middle East peace signings in the United States including the inking of the Oslo Accords in 1993 which brought the late Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat together in Washington.
US President Jimmy Carter also hosted the signing of the Camp David Accords between Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin in 1978.
Trump hinted that the UAE may not be the last country to strike a deal with Israel which so far has only had formal diplomatic relations with two other Arab nations, Egypt and Jordan.
“That was a tremendous thing that happened. We have a lot of other interesting things going on with other nations also having to do with peace agreements and a lot of big news is coming over the next few weeks,” Trump said.
“I am sure you will be very impressed and more importantly it’s great for our country, a great thing for the world.”
Crucial to the UAE decision to forge ties with Israel is a commitment by Netanyahu to halt his plans to annex swaths of Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank.
But speaking alongside Trump, the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said the Jewish state had not abandoned the plan.
“It’s just something that will be deferred until we give peace every single chance,” Friedman told reporters.
While Friedman echoed Netanyahu in saying that the annexation plan remained “on the table,” Trump himself was more circumspect.
“I can’t talk about some time into the future, that’s a big statement. Right now it’s off the table,” he said.
“They agreed not to do it. I think it’s very important, it’s a great concession and it’s a very smart concession.”