The deal was announced by US President Donald Trump, who told reporters in the Oval Office that he had a “very special call” with leaders from both countries, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, and that they had agreed to a peace agreement.

Trump also tweeted a lengthy joint statement between the US, UAE and Israel, calling the agreement to “full normalization of relations” between Israel and the UAE a “historic diplomatic breakthrough.”

The UAE and Israel plan to exchange embassies and ambassadors, according to the statement. It will be the third Arab country to open relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan.

“This deal is a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous Middle East,” Trump said Thursday.

“It will be known as the Abraham Accord,” Trump said of the agreement, which, ​US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said, is named for “the father of all three great faiths,” Christian, Muslim, and Jewish.

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“I wanted it to be called the Donald J. Trump Accord but I didn’t think the press would understand that,” Trump said to laughter.

Trump also suggested that other countries will follow the UAE’s lead “now that the ice has been broken.”

“We are already discussing this with other nations,” Trump said. “So you will probably see others of these.”

Israel​i Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed in on the announcement with a tweet, quoting Trump’s tweet and writing, “A historic day” in Hebrew.

Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid congratulated Netany​ahu, adding, “This step is proof that negotiations and agreements, not unilateral steps like annexation, which would harm Israel’s security, are the way forward for our diplomatic relations.”

Friedman congratulated the President on ​what he called the historic agreement in the Oval Office.

White House adviser and special representative for international negotiations Avi Berkowitz touted the achievement. “Peace is a beautiful thing,” Berkowitz said.

Trump heaped praise on his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who said Trump urged his team to take an “untraditional approach.”

“You can’t solve problems that have gone unsolved by doing it the same way that people before you have tried and failed,” Kushner said, adding that the announcement shows there is “hope” and “potential” for the region.

National security adviser Robert O’Brien added that the Middle East was a “mess” when Trump took office and this is another step to fix that. O’Brien said there will be a meeting of the delegations in the coming weeks, which, Trump added, would take place at the White House.

Trump jokingly asked Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin, who also praised the development, whether it was easier to negotiate with these countries or the Democrats amid stalled coronavirus stimulus negotiations.

“Middle East is more reasonable,” Trump joked.

The White House maintained a tight hold on this announcement, with only a select few top State Department officials aware that this announcement was coming. Most working level State Department officials were surprised when the announcement came, said two State Department officials speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Last week when an interagency delegation traveled to the UAE, a peace agreement with Israel was not discussed, the officials ​said.

“This is a game changer,” one of the officials said. “Simply put, this is breaking out of the mold.”

The administration was able to seize on the UAE and Israel’s common enemy of Iran as a way to achieve this agreement, one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal dynamics. While this is likely to ruffle feathers in other Arab capitals, it will ultimately create solidarity among a greater number of countries confronting Iran, this official said.​

This breaking story has been updated with additional reporting.



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