US President Donald Trump on Thursday responded to the agreement signed between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, saying that Israel has agreed not to apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
In a press briefing, Trump said, “Israel is also suspending settlements in the West Bank, which is a big deal — a bold step toward achieving peace.”
BY Nitzan Keidar
However, he added that sovereignty is “not off the table. No.”
“It’s something they’ve discussed, but Israel has agreed not to do that,” he explained. “I mean, more than just off the table, they have agreed not to do it. And I think that was very important, and I think it was a great concession by Israel, and I think it was a very smart concession by Israel.”
When asked if it was off the table permanently, Trump added: “No, right now, all I can say: It’s off the table. So I can’t talk about some time into the future; that’s a big statement.”
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who was also speaking at the briefing, emphasized that “the word ‘suspend’ was chosen carefully by all the parties. ‘Suspend,’ by definition — look it up — that means ‘temporary halt.’ It’s off the table now, but it’s not off the table permanently.”
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “Just as I brought peace with an Arab state, so too will I apply sovereignty.”
“I’m committed to sovereignty. I’m committed to the Land of Israel, and I will never surrender our rights to this land. President Trump and his team requested a temporary – and I repeat, temporary – delay so that the peace process can move forward, and I agreed.”
White House adviser Jared Kushner on Thursday responded to the “Abraham Accords,” the name given to the recent agreement signed by Israel and the United Arab Emirates,
In a press briefing, Kushner congratulated “the people of Israel and the people of the United Arab Emirates,” saying that “today is a historic breakthrough and a great day for peace.”
“I also want to congratulate President Trump on this milestone. He worked very hard on this with his team. We worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who really are two visionary leaders who made a big step forward today to really change the region,” he added.
“Deals happen when deals are ready. And peace deals are very rare and very historic, and there’s a lot of reasons why people would be held back from moving forward.”
Kushner also said that the talks between the UAE and Israel began while Israel was discussing the “deal of the century” and sovereignty in Judea and Samaria with the US.
“Israel has agreed to suspend those efforts at this time,” he said, noting that the deal precludes sovereignty at present. “And as a result, we’re going to focus on bringing these two countries together. This is really a historic breakthrough, and it shows that President Trump’s leadership, from the Riyadh speech until today — you see a much different Middle East than what he inherited. And hopefully, there’s a lot more good things to come.”
“This is an icebreaker between these two countries. This is the first Arab country to normalize relations with Israel in a long time — 26 years since Jordan. And what we’re going to hopefully see from there is more countries start to do the same.”
Kushner also said that the UAE-Israel deal may help the Palestinian Authority: “This could lead to a great deal for the Palestinian people, that — it’s a people that the President of the United States, President Trump, has not forgotten. And he’s — he’s endorsed the two-state solution. He wants to see the Palestinian people in a prosperous country of their own. And the groundwork has been laid for that, so I think we’ll be working very hard on those efforts in the — in the coming months and — and year.”
Suspension of Israel’s plans to annex Judea and Samaria, he said, may last for “a while” while the agreements are fully enforced and get off the ground. “I think that right now the focus that Israel is going to be applying is towards building this relationship. The opportunities that are now created because of this from an investment point of view, from an innovation point of view, from a health point of view, from a terrorism point of view, and, most importantly to both countries, from a security point of view are very robust.”
Kushner also said he believes that “a lot of people in the region are seeing that we can’t wait for the Palestinian leadership to try and resolve this.”
“Every country is going to do what’s in their best interests, what’s in the region’s best interests. And we have big problems in the world, and we can’t be stuck in the past. We have to be moving forward.
“Now, I will just say that a big part of what motivated the UAE to move forward at this time and take the risk that they’re taking is the notion that they didn’t want to see Israel take the provocative action of applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank, which hopefully allows more space to the Palestinian leadership to come to the table and make a deal.”
He added that he believes that a deal with the Palestinian Authority will happen “at some point,” since “Israel has said that they’re open to making peace. A lot of people in the region have supported the vision that the President laid out.”
“I will just say today that this is a big breakthrough.”
“This is something that’s public,” he explained. “We have a lot of things that are happening privately right now that are quite excited. And I do believe, again, that over the next years, if the President is able to keep going forward, you’re going to see some historic changes in the region that will make — really make the world a much safer and better place.”
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