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Israel, UAE, Bahrain Sign Historic Peace Accord At White House. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 15, 2020 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00]

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In a period of a very short period, within maybe, I mean, literally a very short time, you'll have Iran coming back and saying, let's get this whole thing worked out. Iran is suffering. Iran unfortunately, I don't want them to suffer, but their economy is tanked. They have a minus 27 GDP. Nobody has ever heard of a number like that. I think it's perhaps a record setter, but they're down 27 percent.

And I think they want to make a deal, but they'd much rather deal with sleepy Joe Biden than me because, you know, we're going to make a deal, and I'll make a very fair deal. And I even suggested, wait until after the election, make yourself feel good. Wait until after the election. So we'll see what happens with Iran. I think Iran will end up being a part of a very large and very, very difficult part of the world.

Look, the Middle East has been a very complex, very difficult part of the world. We're making it easier. We're making it a lot simpler. But I think right after our election, the American election, if we win we'll have a deal with Iran. I think we're going to make a deal with Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, Sir, why do you expect other countries in the region to follow the UAE's lead and normalize relations with Israel and which countries are you targeting then?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say the countries but we have many of them. And they'll be coming along rather rapidly, some before the election, perhaps but a lot of them after. And in that case, they won't be waiting for the election. I mean, it's just a question of getting it done. They are very, very excited about being a part of this, somewhat have been a part of it today, in my opinion, if we wanted to, but we didn't want to press it.

And we wanted to give you the dignity and respect because you were the first one. We were the first one. And we have Bahrain here, as you know, and Bahrain is signing today also. But we have a list of who's who. They'll be signing the deal. And it's an incredible thing is happening. It's come a long way. Israel has come a long way. And the Middle East has come a long way. And it's really good for everyone. It's not just Israel. It's good for everybody. It's great for your country, great for your country.

And so it's an honor to be here. It's been so well received all over the world. It's been a real honor. Thank you very much. We'll see you outside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The President of the United States that's taped from a short time ago in the Oval Office with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates. It is a historic day at the Trump White House. The delegation from Bahrain also here, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is here. Israel to sign normalization of relations documents with the UAE and with Bahrain, this brokered with the help of the Trump administration, again, a historic day.

Our national security correspondent Vivian Salama is with me as we wait. Vivian, I may have to interrupt you if we get more of these tapes of the President's meetings with the dignitaries. But this is a very important day. As you know from your time in the region, many of the Gulf States have wanted this for some time, but they haven't been able to get to the finish line. The Gulf States, especially the UAE, which views itself as sort of a Hong Kong of the Middle East, the business Mecca in the Middle East has wanted to put the Palestinian issue behind it, move on to a more pro-business, peace in the region approach, including to get Israeli scientific expertise, I'm sorry, Vivian I need to interrupt you back to the tape, the President of the United States with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Sure. I would love that.

This was a special token of affection given by myself and the first lady to Prime Minister and the First Lady of Israel. And it's a key. We call it a key to the White House. And it's a key to our country and to our hearts. And you've been an amazing leader for a long period of time. And this is in many respects the big day because this is something that's very special. We just left UAE and Bahrain. We're going to meet outside in a ceremony. And it's just a very important event. And it's an honor to have you with us, Bibi. Thank you very much.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Mr. President. And I have served and this is true that you have the key to the hearts of the people of Israel because of all the great things you've done for the Jewish state and the Jewish people. So thank you, thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, fantastic. I look forward to being outside. Yes, please. Any question?

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a great event and (INAUDIBLE) that is Israel getting a lot. What is the Israel giving back?

NETANYAHU: This is the Israeli press that wants to chip away at least.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, I think what really Israel is getting -- I think what Israel is getting and what we're all getting but what Israel is getting more than anything else is peace. They're going to have peace. As you know UAE, United Arab Emirates is a great warring nation, a very powerful nation in the region. And they very much wanted to do this. Mohammed's a tremendous leader, like Bibi is a tremendous leader. And it was important to have them first, very early.

[12:35:14]

And, you know, the relationship is fantastic. And a lot of people are surprised to see it. And as, you know, we have Bahrain. And we have many nations ready to follow, many nations. I can't, no, not now, I won't. But you'll see. We'll be signing up other nations. And these are very strong agreements. These are very strong. This is a peace. This is serious peace. And so I think what Israel gets the most important thing that they're getting by far is peace.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Excuse me, one at a time, please.

NETANYAHU: You pick the other one.

TRUMP: Who? Which one?

NETANYAHU: You see the one in the white, the one in the white.

TRUMP: In the white, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Thank you. (INAUDIBLE), is it possible to know which countries will be following United Arab Emirates?

TRUMP: Well, we'll be announcing -- yes, we're very far down the road with about five countries, five additional countries. Frankly, I think we could have had them here today. We thought out of respect. UAE, they deserved it. And Bahrain came immediately after. They really wanted to do it. But we'll have at least five or six countries coming along very quickly. And we're already talking to them. And they want to see peace. You know, they've been fighting for a long time. They're tired. They're warring countries, but they're tired. They're tired of fighting.

And so you're going to be seeing further announcements. This is, you know, it's a very big day. I guess they said, so there were two countries over a 72 year period. And we did an additional two and these are great countries. We did an additional two in one month one. But you'll -- but you're going to see, you're going to see a lot of very great activity. It's got to be peace in the Middle East.

(INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: Say it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you promote the F-35 deal even if it is objected?

TRUMP: Yes. We're going to work that out. We'll work that out. That's going to be an easy thing. And you know, we've fought with UAE four times, four different wars. They've been very, very loyal to us. And we have a better relationship with them now than we ever had in the past. In fact, in the past, it was very strained. We have a very good relationship with them. Yes, all of that works out, that's going to be very easy to work out, you know.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the Israel deal, that's isolated today than they were this last week? And Mr. Prime Minister, maybe you can answer that question as well.

TRUMP: Well, I think Israel is not isolated anymore. Because I can tell you we have the two countries plus you had an additional two as you know, from many, many years ago. And now you have a situation where many of the countries that I can actually say most of the countries but many of the countries in the Middle East want to sign this deal. And I think when that happens, hopefully after the election because I really believe Iran wants to make a deal. They've had a very tough time.

Their GDP is down 27 percent because of the sanctions and all of the other things. And I don't want that to happen. I don't want -- I want Iran to be a great country, a great nation. I think that would be a wonderful thing. But I think and I've even said that I've said that the representatives of them, you should wait to see the election first. There is nothing they or China or probably Russia would like better than to have sleepy Joe Biden become the president. Because if the sleepy Joe won, they would own the United States, all of them, China would owe the United States.

So I told all of them. I said, wait until after the election, but after the election, we have to make a better deal. I do say that. We're going to make a better deal than we would have. But with Iran, they certainly should wait until after the election because frankly, if Biden wins, they'll make a much better deal. But I'm going to make a good deal with Iran. I'm going to make a deal that's great for Iran. It's going to get them back. We're going to help them in every way possible.

And Iran will be very happy. Iran will be very rich and very quickly. But I think they should wait until after the election. You understand what I mean by that? Because a dream for those countries would be sleepy Joe.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Say it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe you will also broke a deal with the Palestinians?

TRUMP: Yes. I think they come along, and they're already, obviously we speak to them. They've come a long way. We used to pay them $750 million a year when I got here. And I said to people that negotiated with them before. Why did you pay when they treat the United States with such disrespect? They speak so badly death to America, death to Israel. I said we give them 750 million a year. I said, why didn't somebody cut off those payments? Well, we didn't think would be appropriate. I said, well, I do. And I cut off the payments to them as you know.

But other countries give them money. You deal with very rich countries. And these countries are now all signing with us. They're all be signed with us, all of them. I spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia. We had a great conversation. And I think positive things will happen there too. He's a great gentleman. And the Crown Prince, we spoke with the Crown Prince. So we've made tremendous strides. And this is peace in the Middle East without blood all over the sand. I say it.

[12:40:25]

Right now, it's been blood all over the sand for decades and decades and decades. That's all they do is they fight and kill people and nobody gets anything. And this is strong peace, really strong peace for -- and it's a different way. We went in the back door, but I call it going in the very smart door. We went in the smart door and we're getting people. And the Palestinians will absolutely be a member. I don't say that with any bravado. I just tell you the Palestinians will be a member at the right time, at the right time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will they have state officials in your peace?

TRUMP: We're working on a deal. We're talking -- we are talking to the Palestinians. At the right time, they'll be joining too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as long as you're the President is the negotiation off the table, is that something we --

TRUMP: We don't want to talk about that right now. But that's working out very well and very fair and very good for the people that are coming in and for Israel. And again, Israel wants peace. And they're a great warring nation if they have to be. You see that. They have the best equipment. They have the best of everything. But they don't want this, after all of these years, even Bibi gets tired of war.

But they've been, you know, look, they're a strong nation, a strong power, a strong military nation. But they want to get on with their lives. Israel wants peace. They really want peace. And I give this gentleman a great deal of credit. He's done a great job.

NETANYAHU: Thank you. Mr. President, I heard a question from one of the people here. Does Israel feel isolated? Heck, no. We're breaking out to the entire world because we have a strong free economy because we have a strong military because we have a strong relationship with the President of the United States and the American people. And I can tell you that we have a strong relationship throughout the Middle East, the President intimated how many countries are waiting to join the circle of peace. You know, Israel doesn't feel isolated at all. It's enjoying the greatest diplomatic triumph of its history. I think the people who feel isolated are the tyrants of Tehran, because of the pressure that the President has applied on them, because of the resistance to this bad Iran deal. They're under pressure. And you know, I hope they'll all come around. I hope everyone will come around to the circle of peace. But no, we don't feel isolated at all, quite the contrary.

TRUMP: I would say this, there's less isolation right now for Israel than there's ever been. I mean, today there would be less isolated than ever been. I want to just thank your great Ambassador Ron, thank you very much. How do you feel about isolation? I think he's starting to see the light, ha.

RON DERMER, ISRAEL AMBASSADOR: Imagine what will happen when everyone is courting Israel, if this is what isolation looks like.

TRUMP: We love Israel. And I'll tell you what? I have great respect for the countries that have stepped up so beautifully. And you're going to see that in a little while, we're having a ceremony. And thank you all for being here. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, let's go guys. Let's go press.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: On the left of your screen, the President moments ago in the Oval Office with the Prime Minister of Israel and his delegation, Bibi Netanyahu sitting next to the President of the United States. They're realizing a peace of his longtime dream to get other Arab nations to turn away from the Palestinian cause and embrace normal relations with the State of Israel. Now you see a live picture there. That is the South Lawn of the White House. We're just moments from now. And there will be a ceremony to put on paper normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, normalization of relations between Israel and Bahrain.

Oren Liebermann is live from the region with us, Vivian Salama our national security correspondent as well. And I want to start with you, Oren, in the sense that this had long has been Bibi Netanyahu's dream to get other Arab nations to say, forget about it. We're exhausted with the Palestinian cause. Let's make peace or at least normalize relations with Israel, move on to economics, move on to scientific exchanges, and put that era behind us. Both President Trump and the Prime Minister indicating they believe more will follow the UAE and Bahrain.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, you're absolutely right. This was the dream of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his words, this is peace for peace, not peace for land, not peace for territorial compromise. Of course, that claim seems to ignore the fact that this only moved forward because Israel halted its annexation of parts of the West Bank, essentially preserving a two state solution and preserving the possibility that that becomes the Palestinian state.

But as you just heard in the statements from Netanyahu and from President Donald Trump, this certainly isn't about the Palestinians. It's about Israel. It's about the UAE and Bahrain and at least to Trump, it's about his reelection efforts in less than two months. Nevertheless, it is on historic agreement moving forward here, that it is normalization. It should be noted that these countries have never been at war and they've had covert relations for years now, but those relations now out in the open and the credit there does go to the White House for the efforts that moved forward, essentially bringing an anti-Iran alliance between the Sunni Gulf States and Israel a de facto Alliance out into the open here.

[12:45:20]

The benefit not only in terms of as you point out, tourism, economy, finance, health, but also certainly a military edge looking here. It's been reported here, of course, that the UAE looking to acquire Lockheed Martin F-35s out of this less clear is what Bahrain is looking to get out of this, but that is certainly an open question as well. They just joined this in the last few days essentially, as opposed to the UAE which hopped on board a month ago.

It is a big agreement. It cannot avert the fact that there's another major headline here and that is a coronavirus lockdown with record breaking numbers. That is a headline Netanyahu wants to get away from. It is a headline he will return to when all of this is over.

KING: A very important point. Oren Liebermann, stay with us. You see the leaders are right there just outside the Oval Office in the colonnade at the White House prepare to come out for this ceremony. Vivian Salama, to you, Oren makes the point and it's an important point that they're having covert relations between Israel and many of these Gulf States for many, many years. The President as he often does at these events, saying things that simply aren't true. Talking about they've been fighting for years. The Israel has not been fighting the United Arab Emirates. Israel has not been fighting Bahrain.

Yes, the UAE and Bahrain have been financial supporters, philosophical supporters, moral supporters of the Palestinian cause. They have condemned Israel regularly for what they view as Israeli aggression and violation of its agreements with the Palestinians. But there's been no fighting. There's been no fighting. But that being said, this is still a significant achievement for this President to get this to the finish line, to get these relations from private out into the public where whether its economic partnership, other trade partnerships, scientific exchanges, they can now happen in the public.

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. And the President obviously looking for a big win here before the election, what was supposed to be the original version of Middle East peace has come a long way since the beginning since the campaign in fact, when the President was promising to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis to the table. A little fact check, actually, the President said, we're talking to the Palestinians, and we're going to get them soon. I asked Jared Kushner, his son in law last week, the architect of a lot of these plans, whether or not they're still speaking to the Palestinians, whether or not there's hope for the Palestinians to come to the table. And Jared actually said, they're waiting for the Palestinians to come to us. He said the ball is in their court. And so he indicated that the U.S. is actually not speaking to the Palestinians currently. And they're waiting for this to kind of play out to see how this goes before they even think about resuming any talks with the Palestinians.

And so that's one issue there. Of course, as you mentioned, also the President repeatedly referring to warring nations. I have lived in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and I assure you, there was no wars while I was there, and not before it either. However, they have been, the UAE in particular, has been a supporter to the United States as far as military assistance and backup the UAE receives its training from the U.S. military as well as the French military. And they are a strong power in the region and becoming stronger every day.

Bahrain, on the other hand, does not have the same leverage as the UAE had. Oren just mentioned, it's not clear what Bahrain is getting out of this deal. We know and we heard from the President now that there are talks to give F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Emirates. And they do have that leverage. Remember, the UAE is an extremely wealthy nation with regard to oil wealth, Abu Dhabi, the capital has a tremendous amount of oil wealth. And so they do have that leverage. Bahrain does not -- it does not have that national resource wealth that the UAE does. But what it does have is Saudi Arabia backing it.

The Saudi Arabia is essentially an extension of Bahrain. They're connected physically by a causeway. But also the Saudi military offers significant assistance to Bahrain with regard to any military assistance. And, you know, we saw that with the Arab Spring. Bahrain had its own uprising several years ago and Saudi tanks rolled over that causeway into Bahrain to help them. And we know that the White House has really been eyeing Saudi Arabia as the big fish to this whole entire thing to get Saudi Arabia and Israel on the same page to normalize relations.

And according to several sources, I've spoken to the Crown Prince, the young Crown Prince that has been a big ally of Jared Kushner and the President is really tempted by this notion, but the King is not the King, Salman is still alive and is resistant to that. And so they are using Bahrain as the test case moving forward to see if a Saudi normalization deal can be achieved down the road.

KING: Incredibly important point. And Bahrain, as you noted, strategic importance, it's also sitting, it has a U.S. naval base, a very significant U.S. Naval Base looking across the Gulf at Iran. And Oren, back to you on that point, Vivian just mentioned very smartly the complications of the Saudi internal policy, if you will, because the pieces of this, the UAE today, Bahrain today, the pieces of this would fit nicely into what was once the broader Saudi peace initiative that a couple years ago was viewed as the path forward perhaps and then it collapsed in part because of the transition of power and some internal rivalries within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The question is, will that be the next step?

[12:50:27]

LIEBERMANN: You're absolutely right in asking that. It was the 2002 Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative which was supposed to pave the way for this. Crucially, it called for an end of the conflict first, and then normalization. The UAE and Bahrain although nominally still sticking to the Arab Peace Initiative have clearly flipped that narrative around and have normalized before an end to the conflict with the Palestinians. Where did the Saudis sit? It was absolutely right to point out that Bahrain is the test case. But is Saudi Arabia the next to normalize relations, President Donald Trump suggesting that there are five other countries that want to do so it's hard to see Saudi at the top of that list. And it's because of King Salman, who is sort of institutionally, historically, culturally tied to the Palestinian cause.

And it's difficult to see him moving forward without some sort of resolution, or at least a major move by Israel forward on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Who would be the most likely candidate to be next normalize relations, probably Oman. First, Oman put out a very complimentary statement of the Israel-Bahrain agreement.

Second Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was just there last year making an official visit. Also like the UAE, like Bahrain, they've had covert relations in the past. So Oman would be very high in the list of targets for the White House to try to get them to normalize next. Morocco could be on that list, into the transactional view of Trump. Trump has something very tantalizing he could give them and that would be recognition of Moroccan sovereignty and occupied Western Sahara, so that might tempt them to normalize relations. Sudan would be another target on the White House's list. Sudan is on the U.S. state sponsor of terror list if the Trump administration removes that from that list -- on that list, perhaps they'll be tempted to normalize relations.

So these are all the give and take calculations that the White House will make to try to get other nations over that line and build on the momentum they have here between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain in a shifting Middle East. But it's about the interests of the nations and about the interests of the White House to make these foreign policy moves happen.

KING: Interests, a very important word always when you're dealing with diplomacy Oren. And back to you Vivian, the interest here of the President of the United States, let's be clear, they're introducing the First Lady of the United States right now. Let's listen in a little bit to watch this out. This is the South Portico of the White House.

See the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Netanyahu who also walking out from the Rose Garden around onto the South Portico of the White House. You'll remember just a couple weeks back, the same location used during the Republican National Convention. Now it is being used again for a Middle East peace signing. That has been the scene of those in the past, as well, in the George H.W. Bush administration, as well as in the Bill Clinton administration. None of the promises of those accords came to pass, those were between Israel and the Palestinians tentative steps toward what both presidents of time thought might be a broader peace that has not been realized.

Now this President taking a different approach, brokering deals between Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel to normalize relations and the President of the United States saying, he expects soon other nations will follow. We hear now Hail to the Chief. Here comes the President of the United States with the delegations from Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States accompanied by the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, His Highness, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and international cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, and the Minister of the Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, please. Thank you.

The First Lady and I are honored to welcome to the White House Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and Mrs. Netanyahu, thank you so much. Thank you, Sir. And Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, United Arab Emirates, UAE, thank you very much. And Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani of Bahrain, thank you. Thank you very much.

[12:55:36]

We're here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we marked the dawn of a new Middle East. Thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries. We take a major stride toward a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity. In a few months, these visionary leaders will sign the first two peace deals between Israel and the Arab State in more than a quarter century. In Israel's entire history, there have previously been only two such agreements. Now we have achieved two in a single month. And there are more to follow.

Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, will establish embassies, exchange ambassadors, and begin the cooperate and work together so strongly to cooperate as partners across the broad range of sectors from tourism to trade and healthcare to security. They're going to work together. They are friends. The Abraham Accords also opened the door for Muslims around the world to visit the historic sites in Israel and to peacefully pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.

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 maybe in many decades from now. But one founded on shared interests, mutual respect, and friendship to our honored guests from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, congratulations on this outstanding achievement. Congratulations. Fantastic. I also want to thank Vice President Mike Pence. Thank you, Mike, great job. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mike, thank you very much. National Security Advisor, Robert O'Brien. Robert, thank you. Mr. Jared Kushner. Jared, thank you very much. Ambassador Brian Hook. Thank you very much, Brian. Thank you. Thank you. And Avi Berkowitz, Avi, thank you very much.

I also want to give a very special thanks, he's been an incredible Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. That's a very great group of people, great group of patriots. They wanted this to happen so badly. They work so hard. And again, nobody thought it could happen. And they thought it could happen. They never even doubted it. So I want to thank you all very much. Thank you.

For generations, the people of the Middle East have been held back by old conflicts, hostilities, lies, treacheries, so many things held them back. Actually lies that the Jews and Arabs were enemies, and that Al-Aqsa Mosque was under attack constantly, they would say it was under attack. These lies passed down from generation to generation fueled a vicious cycle of terror and violence that spread across the region and all over the world. These agreements prove that the nations of the region are breaking free from the failed approaches of the past. Today, signing sets history on a new course. And there will be other countries very, very soon that will follow these great leaders.

[13:00:02]