A landmark peace deal has been signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The historic agreement, which was brokered by the Trump administration, sees the two Arab nations recognise Israel as a sovereign country, becoming just the third and fourth Gulf states to do so.
Prior to the agreement, Egypt and Jordan — who signed peace treaties in 1978 and 1994 — were the only countries in the region willing to acknowledge Israel's sovereignty.
The normalising of diplomatic relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain is also likely to open up a number of new trade opportunities.
At the signing ceremony held at the White House on Tuesday, Trump said the deal marked "the dawn of a new Middle East" following "decades of division and conflict".
"We're here this afternoon to change the course of history," the president announced.
"Together these agreements will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region, something which nobody thought was possible, certainly not in this day and age.
"These agreements prove that the nations of the region are breaking free from failed approaches of the past. Today's signing sets history on a new course and there will be other countries very very soon that will follow these great leaders."
Tweeting out a scriptural reference to mark the occasion, Vice President Mike Pence declared, "Blessed Are The Peacemakers".
Prominent evangelist Franklin Graham also hailed the deal as a success. “The Bible tells us to, ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!’ (Ps 122:6). Today officials from Israel, United Arab Emirates, & Bahrain joined @POTUS Trump to sign peace agreements called the ‘Abraham Accords,” he tweeted.
Rev Johnnie Moore, a commissioner for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, called the signing of the agreement "one of the great moments in history". He added that the accord has ushered in "an era of peace & prosperity where hope & opportunity are in full bloom".
Most of the Arab nations refuse to recognise Israel's state sovereignty as a result of its long-standing territorial disputes with the Palestinians. In response to the agreement, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said that true peace across the region would only be possible if and when Israel withdrawals from the occupied territories.
"Peace, security and stability will not be achieved in the region until the Israeli occupation ends," he said in a statement to AFP.
According to the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, the peace agreement was named the 'Abraham Accords' on account of it having the potential to bring together communities from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths.