Trump Expects Saudi Arabia, 4 Other Arab States Will Normalize Ties With Israel

October 24, 2020 Updated: October 25, 2020

President Donald Trump said on Oct. 23 that he expects Saudi Arabia will be among “at least five” Arab nations soon to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel.

Trump made the remarks to reporters in the Oval Office after an announcement that Sudan had agreed to restore diplomatic ties with Israel.

“We have at least five that want to come in. And we’ll have many more than that very soon,” Trump said.

“I’m sure you’ll see Saudi Arabia there very soon,” Trump said. “I really believe that will happen too, and very good relations with Saudi Arabia, and so you’ll see something very special.”

The Oct. 23 normalization deal is the third U.S.-brokered agreement between Israel and an Arab state in recent months. Similar agreements have been reached with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Sudan-Israel peace agreement
President Donald Trump speaks about a Sudan-Israel peace agreement, in the Oval Office in Washington, on Oct. 23, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

“Today’s peace agreement will enhance Israel’s security and end Sudan’s long isolation from the world because of what was taking place,” Trump said. “It will unlock new opportunities for trade and commerce, education and research, and cooperation and friendship for both peoples.”

Asked to detail the implications of a “normalization” deal, Netanyahu called it “mind-boggling” and spoke of container ships carrying consumer goods following newly established trade lines between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

“That’s bringing down the price—the cost of living for the citizens of Israel right away. So it’s—firstly, it’s trade,” Netanyahu said, adding that Israeli tourism agents have been “flocking to Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, and they’re now just loaded with requests from Israelis and, believe it or not, the other way around: Bahrainis and Emiratis who want to come to Israel.”

“You have trade, tourism, technology, entrepreneurs, everything,” the Israeli prime minister said. “I mean, the same thing is going to happen with Sudan.”

Sudan, Israel leaders
(L) Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Feb. 14, 2020. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters); (R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Aug. 13, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool via Reuters)

A reporter asked about the sale of F-35s to the United Arab Emirates, which Abu Dhabi had been seeking for some time, prompting Trump to say, “That process is moving along.”

Also on Oct. 23, Israel announced that it wouldn’t oppose U.S. sales of “specific weapons systems” to the United Arab Emirates, which didn’t explicitly refer to F-35s.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz reached agreements in Washington this week with Defense Secretary Mark Esper that he and Netanyahu, in a joint statement, said would significantly upgrade Israel’s military capabilities.

“Since the U.S. is upgrading Israel’s military capability and is maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, Israel will not oppose the sale of these systems to the UAE,” the joint statement said.

“We’ve never had a dispute with UAE; they’ve always been on our side. And that process is moving along—I think hopefully rapidly,” Trump said, responding to the question about the United Arab Emirates’ bid to acquire the fighter jets.

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