Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Middle East is not exactly renowned for producing good news, and few expected this year to be any different. You know, the pandemic is ravaging our part of the world like everywhere else.
But I am pleased to report to you that this year, I can tell you about good news from the Middle East. In fact, I can report two pieces of good news.
Earlier this month, at a White House ceremony hosted by President Trump, Israel signed historic agreements with the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
This was the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country in over a quarter of a century. And it was the first time peace agreements between Israel and two Arab countries were signed on the same day.
These new agreements will bring our peoples the blessings of peace and the enormous benefits that come with more trade, more investment, more commerce, transportation, tourism, increased cooperation in so many other areas.
I also have no doubt that more Arab and Muslim countries will be joining the circle of peace, soon, very soon.
This good news about peace came about because of a clear break with the failed strategies of the past.
For far too long, the Palestinians effectively wielded a veto on peace between Israel and the broader Arab world.
For decades, all progress was halted and was held hostage to completely unrealistic Palestinian demands, such as the demand that Israel withdraw to the indefensible lines of 1967 and place its security in the hands of others; or the demand that Israel expel tens of thousands of Jews from their homes, effectively committing ethnic cleansing; or the demand that Israel absorb millions of Palestinians who are descendants of refugees from a war that was launched by the Palestinians against Israel more than half a century ago.
Of course, these demands, along with many others, are complete non-starters for any responsible Israeli government. Yet for years, many in the international community have tried to appease these absurd Palestinian demands, and as a result, they have wasted time to try to advance an illusion that won’t happen, instead of working for a realistic solution that could happen.