Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday praised the Israel-United Arab Emirates peace deal announced by President Trump, but credited efforts of the Obama-Biden administration for the “historic step.”
Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed released a joint statement Thursday after Israel and the UAE agreed to normalize relations.
The statement said that the “diplomatic breakthrough” was at “the request of President Trump,” and that Israel will “suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.”
The former vice president praised the move as “a historic step to bridge the deep divides of the Middle East,” calling the UAE’s offer to “publicly recognize the State of Israel is a welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship.”
“It is a critical recognition that Israel is a vibrant, integral part of the Middle East that is here to stay,” Biden said. “Israel can and will be a valued strategic and economic partner to all who welcome it.”
Biden, though, said that “the coming together of Israel and Arab states builds on the efforts of multiple administrations to foster a broader Arab-Israeli opening, including the efforts of the Obama-Biden administration to build on the Arab Peace Initiative.”
“I personally spent time with leaders of both Israel and the UAE during our administration building the case for cooperation and broader engagement and the benefits it could deliver to both nations, and I am gratified by today’s announcement,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “It is a timely reminder that enmities and differences — even long standing ones — are not set in stone, and of the role American diplomacy can play.”
He added: “There is always room for cooperation and collaboration on areas of mutual interest, and the Emirates and Israel both share a keen interest in preserving the prospects for peace in the region.”
Biden went on to say that “annexation would be a body blow to the cause of peace, which is why I oppose it now and would oppose it as president,” and “would virtually end any chance of a two-state solution that would secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state and uphold the right of Palestinians to a state of their own.”
Biden added: “By forestalling that possibility and replacing it with the hope of greater connection and integration in the region, the United Arab Emirates and Israel have pointed a path toward a more peaceful, stable Middle East.”
“A Biden-Harris Administration will seek to build on this progress, and will challenge all the nations of the region to keep pace,” he said.
Delegations from Israel and the UAE are expected to meet in the coming weeks to “sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.” “Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations,” the statement also read.
Trump on Thursday said he had a call with Israel and the UAE. The president told reporters Israel and the UAE will “begin cooperation across the board,” along with exchanging embassies and ambassadors. The president said he expected other countries to follow the UAE’s lead on this effort to cooperate with Israel going forward.
The president said the action would be known as the “Abraham Accord,” named for the “father of all three great faiths.”
“No person better symbolizes the potential for unity of these three great faiths,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said from the Oval Office Thursday.
Israel and the UAE also said they will continue their efforts to “achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”