AUSTRALIAN Jewry woke on Wednesday morning to “a new dawn of peace” in the Middle East, with Israel formally signing historic normalisation deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The White House ceremony – attended by US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain – was due to commence at 2am AEST, but in true Israeli fashion, ran late by an hour.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” US President Donald Trump said at the start of the ceremony.
“After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”
Marking the “dawn of a new Middle East”, UAE and Bahrain sign historic peace accords with Israel!
Posted by The Australian Jewish News on Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Stating that for generations, the people of the Middle East have been “held back” by old conflicts, hostilities, treacheries and “lies that the Jews and Arabs were enemies”, Trump said Israel, the UAE and Bahrain would establish embassies, exchange ambassadors and work together on a broad range of sectors, from tourism to trade, and healthcare to security.
Declaring, “This day is a pivot of history,” Netanyahu told the ceremony it couldn’t happen at a more poignant time. “This week is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and what a blessing we bring to this new year, a blessing of friendship, a blessing of hope, a blessing of peace.”
He praised Trump for unequivocally standing by Israel’s side and noted, “he is already lining up more and more countries” to make peace with the Jewish State.
“This was unimaginable a few years ago, but with resolve, determination, a fresh look at the way peace is done, this is being achieved.”
Trump told reporters he expected Saudi Arabia to follow the UAE and Bahrain, adding that up to nine nations were on the path to peace with Israel. He didn’t rule out the prospect of peace with the Palestinians either.
The walls of the Old City in Jerusalem were lit last night with the Israeli, American, Emirati and Bahraini flags. A beautiful message of peace!
“We are talking to the Palestinians. At the right time, they’ll be joining too.”
Lauding the deal, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said, “These steps of normalisation pave the way for enduring peace, and greater dialogue, cooperation, and economic opportunities. These announcements set an example of the power of negotiated outcomes.”
Congratulating the countries for “navigating a path towards peace and prosperity”, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said, “These agreements promise a future of fraternity, partnership and stability for the peoples of the region and signal the beginning of the end for the old tactics of anti-normalisation and boycott which were founded in racial hatred, fear and intolerance.”
Echoing the sentiment, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler stated, “These are truly historic times, and we congratulate the leaders of Israel and especially of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, for taking these courageous steps that further the interests of peace and of the future prosperity of their people.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein added, “There is every reason to hope these deals, and the new regional alignment they herald, will empower the Western-leaning Sunni Arab nations in the Middle East to engage in more open ties with Israel.”
As the deal-signing ceremony took place, at least two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, one of which struck the city of Ashdod. Hamas appeared to claim responsibility for the attack, indicating that it was in response to the normalisation agreements.
“It is highly regrettable that the Palestinian leadership have reacted so negatively to these agreements, condemning acts of peace, instead of taking advantage of the opportunities it could create for Palestinians,” Rubenstein lamented.
“This is not only counterproductive and disappointing, but characteristic of an unfortunate pattern of rejectionism and inability to rethink entrenched positions that has ill served their people.”