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The shared interests and concerns that led to Israel’s normalization with Bahrain and UAE

The first Arab-Israeli agreement in 25 years was signed Tuesday on the White House South Lawn, as Israel normalized relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and foreign ministers from Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, President Trump said the occasion marked “the dawn of a new Middle East.” Nick Schifrin reports on what's at stake.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    On this day with more than its share of climate news, we turn first to the White House South Lawn and the signing of the first Arab-Israeli agreement in a quarter-century, as Israel normalized relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

    In a moment, we will get the views of top presidential adviser Jared Kushner.

    But, first, foreign affairs correspondent Nick Schifrin lays out the stakes of the deal and today's moment.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have never fought a war, but they all hope today sparks peace.

  • President Donald Trump:

    After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu:

    This peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and, ultimately, it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.

  • Abdullah Bin Zayed (through translator):

    We are already witnessing a change in the heart of the Middle East, a change that will send hope around the world.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The normalization agreements pledged to settle disputes without force, establish embassies, create direct flights, and expand investment, tourism and trade.

    The countries share economic interests that extend from Tel Aviv to the Emirati business capital, Dubai.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu:

    The great economic benefits of our partnership will be felt throughout our region.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The countries also share fears of political Islam and Iran. Shia Iran threatens Israel and Sunni countries with the region's largest missile inventory and proxies that have expanded their influence.

    Analysts also say today is about shared doubts, about the U.S. commitment. Israel is now seen as the most reliable regional partner. The UAE is hoping to buy American weapons, including the F-35, and buy goodwill in Washington among those who criticize the country for helping lead the war in Yemen that's killed tens of thousands.

    Before today, the U.S. had hosted the first two Arab-Israeli agreements with Jordan and Egypt that swapped land for peace, but left unsolved today, Israel's core conflict with the Palestinians. The Emirates say normalization halted Israeli annexation of settlements in the West Bank.

    But, during the ceremony, militants in Gaza fired missiles into Israeli cities. And, this morning, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank protested normalization before peace.

    Palestinians and many regional analysts warn, regional peace is impossible without Israeli-Palestinian peace.

  • Saeb Erekat:

    The real conflict is a Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And that's what needs to be solved. This is the only way to peace and security and stability in this region.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The U.S. hopes today creates irreversible momentum that isolates the Palestinians.

    In the meantime, today makes overt what had once been covert: a partial Israeli-Gulf realignment of the Middle East.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.

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