Netanyahu lands in Washington to sign deals with UAE, Bahrain

“We now have two historic peace agreements with two Arab countries within one month... It will be a warm peace,” Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and other officials regarding Israel's nationwide lockdown, Washington DC, September 14, 2020  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and other officials regarding Israel's nationwide lockdown, Washington DC, September 14, 2020
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Washington on Monday as Israel prepared to lock down to combat the spread of coronavirus. He left for the airport Sunday night immediately after a press conference in which he announced new restrictions.
Netanyahu emphasized the historic nature of the trip, in which he is set to sign normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, only four days after the latter announced official ties with Israel on Friday.
The two countries’ foreign ministers are expected to join him for the ceremony at the White House on Tuesday at noon EDT.
In his remarks ahead of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said his conversation with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Friday was “very warm” and that they decided to establish official peace and full ties between the countries.
“We now have two historic peace agreements with two Arab countries within one month,” Netanyahu told cabinet ministers. “I am sure that we all praise this new age... I want to promise you that each and every one of you through your ministries will be a part of it, because this is going to be a different peace.
“It will be a warm peace, an economic peace in addition to a diplomatic peace; a peace between nations,” he said.
The enthusiasm Israelis have displayed about these new ties echoed in the populations of the UAE and Bahrain, Netanyahu said.
“This is truly a tremendous change,” he said.
The drafts of the agreements were not yet completed as of Sunday evening, and it remained unclear as to whether the document Israel and the UAE will sign will be called a peace treaty or simply normalization.
Because there was less time to prepare, the Bahrain-Israel agreement will be more declarative and will not be as detailed as the one with the Emirates.

ALTERNATE PRIME Minister Benny Gantz, who was notified in advance of the Bahrain agreement unlike the one with the UAE, praised Netanyahu ahead of his trip to Washington.
Speaking at the Israel Security Prize Ceremony, Gantz told the security officers they will “leverage the normalization and promotion of ties with different countries in the region to create a front against joint threats, and bring economic cooperation that will strengthen the security and help the economy of Israel to come out of its crisis. We will do all that while preserving Israel’s security advantages in the region.”
At the same ceremony, President Reuven Rivlin referred to Likud ideological forebear Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s seminal essay “The Iron Wall,” which says Israel will be able to make peace with its Arab neighbors only when it is strong.
“Peace between Israel and the Emirates proves, once again, the far-reaching vision of ‘The Iron Wall,’” he said. “Only determination, faith, security and technological might, together with unity... will allow us to build a strong Israel with which it is worthwhile to sign a treaty of peace.”
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke to his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani, on Saturday night. Israel has already begun working on opening an embassy in Bahrain.
Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen spoke with reporters on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport just moments before boarding the plane on his way to DC. "This is a very exciting trip... many people have worked very hard over the years to make this moment possible," he said.
Oman praised the normalization between Israel and Bahrain, its state media said Sunday.
“The Sultanate welcomes the initiative taken by the sisterly kingdom of Bahrain,” Oman’s state TV channel said on its Twitter account.
Oman “hopes this new strategic path taken by some Arab countries will contribute to bringing about a peace based on an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and on establishing an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as capital,” the government statement said.
In 2018, Netanyahu visited Oman and discussed peace initiatives in the Middle East with then-Omani leader Sultan Qaboos.
Morocco is expected to allow direct flights from Israel as the next step in US President Donald Trump’s normalization efforts, Channel 12 reported.
Reuters and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.