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'Palestinian self-determination not for sale': Protesters in USA rally against normalisation

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Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomes Oman's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Tehran on 2 December 2019

"The Middle East is the heartland of Jewish history, the home to our prophets, historical and holy sites", he said.

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

Mr Trump did not name the additional countries, but hinted during a meeting with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan that Saudi Arabia may be on board. "A just, comprehensive and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be the foundation, the bedrock of such peace".

"Thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries we take a major stride towards a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity", Trump said.

Hostilities reportedly took place just shortly after a historical peace accord was signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Tuesday, as the two countries became the first two states in the Gulf to establish diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv. Jordon signed a peace pact in 1994. "We already have the big one, but including the big ones", Trump said.

Skeptics, including many longtime Mideast observers, analysts, experts and former officials, have expressed doubts about the impact of the deals and lamented that they ignore the Palestinians, who have rejected them as a stab in the back by fellow Arabs.

"These agreements are a huge accomplishment for the countries involved and have led to a tremendous sense of hope and optimism in the region", said Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who led the negotiations.

"It heralds a new dawn of peace", he said. "This is not a peace between leaders, but a peace among peoples".

Trump predicted that Iran, under heavy USA sanctions, would want to reach a deal with Washington, which has been trying to get it to renegotiate an global nuclear deal.

One line of thinking behind the Abraham Accords is what they unlock - including the freer flow of investment dollars - and whether it will compel other Arab states to seek their own agreements with Israel.

Although Emirati protocol dictates that the foreign minister and not the crown prince of a specific emirate be dispatched to represent the country in lieu of the UAE's president, who's rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke more than six years ago, there's speculation the crown prince is not attending the White House ceremony for political reasons. "But with resolve, determination [and] a fresh look at the way peace is done, this is being achieved", Netanyahu said, praising the Trump administration for their assistance in brokering the deals.

"We're here this afternoon to change the course of history", Trump said from a balcony overlooking the South Lawn.

A cabinet statement on Tuesday read, "The cabinet notes that the kingdom stands by the Palestinian people and supports all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue that enables the Palestinian people to establish their independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with worldwide legitimacy decisions and the Arab Peace Initiative". Sixteen of the 22 members of the Arab League, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, do not recognize Israel. "We would like to show our people and region of the world that there is some good news from our part of the world".

But regional countries no longer think it's possible to use normalization with Israel as a bargaining chip to achieve the two-state solution, said Will Todman, associate fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Our region has suffered far too long", he said.

This will counter the extremists who use the false narrative that the Al Aqsa Mosque is under attack and that Muslims can not pray at this holy site, it said.

In Gaza, protesters trampled on and set fire to placards bearing images of the leaders of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Last week, Trump announced that Bahrain had also reached a deal with Israel to normalise relations.

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