The Washington Post - USA (2020-09-16)

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“regarding the commitment that
the UAE has received from the
Tr ump administration to pur-
chase American-made F-35 air-
“It is also critically important
that we fully understand the
agreements’ details regarding
the announced freeze of efforts
by Israel to annex portions of the
West Bank,” she said.
Israelis watched the White
House ceremony closely Tuesday
evening, with all TV channels
halting regular broadcasts to
bring live images from Washing-
The broadcasts were inter-
rupted only to report on a sud-
den round of rockets fired by
Palestinian militants in Gaza as
the leaders gave empowering
speeches about forging peace.
Air raid sirens sounded in the
coastal cities of Ashdod and
Ashkelon, with Israeli police say-
ing that a rocket had left two
people injured. The rocket fire
was seen by Israelis as a message
of disapproval from the militant
Islamic group Hamas, which
governs the Gaza Strip.
In Israeli reports on the Wash-
ington ceremony, close attention
was paid to whether Netanyahu
and members of his entourage
were wearing masks and social
distancing. As the novel corona-
virus soars in Israel and the
country heads into a second
nationwide lockdown Friday, the
start of the Jewish High Holy
Days, Netanyahu’s decision to
leave the country was closely
Few masks were i n evidence at
the ceremony, and no social
distancing was enforced. In ap-
parent deference to coronavirus
protocols, however, there were
no embraces or shaken hands
among the leaders. Instead, they
saluted each other, Middle East-
ern-style, with hands on their

Ruth Eglash in Jerusalem and Felicia
Sonmez in Washington contributed
to this report.

pronounced in South Korea,
where 4 6 percent of respondents
gave Trump a positive rating in
spring 20 19, compared with
17 percent this year. South Ko-
reans gave the U. S. handling of
the pandemic the worst rating of
any nation, with 6 percent say-
ing the United States did a good
South Korea, a key U.S. ally,
often sees the country in a
positive light, said Kang Won-
taek, a professor at Seoul Na-
tional University. Trump’s out-
reach to North Korea and inter-
est in the peninsula may have
given his popularity a boost
among some South Koreans in
recent years.
“The euphoria is gone,” Kang
said in an email, pointing to a
lack of progress in peace talks
with Pyongyang and Trump’s
heavy-handed approach to rela-
tions with Seoul. The U. S. han-
dling of the novel coronavirus
had dented the country’s stand-
ing with South Koreans, he said.
“As a matter of fact, many
Koreans are very surprised that
the U. S. has not effectively dealt
with the outbreak,” Kang said,
adding that many Koreans pin
the blame on what they see as
Trump’s unreliability.
Other world leaders fared bet-
ter than Trump on the world
stage. Though China is widely
criticized for aggressive foreign
policy moves and its secrecy
during the early days of the
pandemic, President Xi Jinping
has a marginally more positive
international reputation than

Trump, Pew found.
Russian President Vladimir
Putin, widely suspected of back-
ing attempts at electoral inter-
ference and the assassination of
dissidents, also fared better, as
did British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson and French President
Emmanuel Macron.
German Chancellor Angela
Merkel, frequently criticized by
Trump in recent years, was by far
the most popular leader among
those surveyed, with a median of
76 percent expressing confi-
dence that she will do the right
thing in global affairs.
The contrast between
Merkel’s cautious handling of
Germany’s federal system dur-
ing the pandemic and Trump’s
less disciplined approach, Da-
vid-Wilp said, heightened many
Germans’ awareness of her repu-
“Germans, I think, have been
surprised and maybe secretly
proud of Chancellor Merkel,”
David-Wilp said. “I think she
really touched a nerve with the
German people in the sense that
she was very open and direct and
called [the pandemic] what it
was: The biggest crisis Germany
is facing in the post-war era.”
Pew said it gathered its survey
data using nationally represen-
tative surveys of 13, 273 adults
from June 10 through Aug. 3,
with all interviews conducted by
phone. The margin of error
ranged from 3.1 percentage
points in South Korea to 4.
points in Belgium.


President Trump defended his
handling of the coronavirus pan-
demic during an interview with
Fox News over the weekend,
arguing that he took “tremen-
dous steps” early in the out-
break, which “saved probably
two or two and a half million
But much of the world ap-
pears to think otherwise. In a
new poll of 13 nations released
Tuesday, a median of 15 percent
of respondents said the United
States had handled the pandem-
ic well, while 85 percent said the
country had responded poorly.
The data, released by Pew
Research Center, suggests that
the international reputation of
the United States has dropped to
a new low in the face of a
disorganized response to the
novel coronavirus. The country
leads the world in virus-related
International affairs analysts
say it may be difficult to repair
the damage to the United States’
standing overseas. Among some
traditional allies like Germany,
views of the United States have
declined to the lowest levels
since Pew began tracking them
nearly two decades ago.
“I still think there is admira-

tion for the United States, but it
may be waning very quickly —
especially if Trump gets reelect-
ed,” said Sudha David-Wilp, a
senior transatlantic fellow at the
German Marshall Fund in Ber-
Pew surveyed 13 foreign na-
tions, all wealthy democracies,
along with the United States this
After Trump entered office in
20 17, Pew found much of the
world to hold a negative view of
the U. S. leader, with views of the
United States overall dipping in
many nations.
But Pew’s latest polling sug-
gests that the pandemic, an
unprecedented global crisis, has
caused views of the United
States among its closest peers to
slide even further.
In contrast, many respon-
dents had positive perspectives
on their own countries: Nearly
three-quarters of people polled
said their own governments had
done a good job handling the
Internationally, the U. S. rat-
ing was significantly lower than
the ratings for the World Health
Organization, which the Trump
administration has dubbed “cor-
rupt,” and China, the epicenter
of the initial outbreak, which
Trump said “sent us the plague.”

Poll finds global views

of U.S. hitting new lows

Addressing reporters during
an Oval Office meeting with
Netanyahu, Trump predicted
that t he Palestinians would even-
tually come on board. “Obvious-
ly, we speak to them,” he said,
even as he recalled that his
administration had cut off
$750 million in funding to the
Palestinians because “they treat
the United States so badly.”
Neither the UAE nor Bahrain
is or ever has been at war with
Israel, so the documents are not
peace treaties in the formal
sense. But until now, both Per-
sian Gulf states had officially
considered Israel to be illegiti-
Arab states in the Persian Gulf
have edged closer to Israel over
the past decade, some with ex-
tensive but largely unpublicized
ties, in response to a shared
desire to blunt Iranian influence
in the region.
Trump greeted all three lead-
ers in the Oval Office separately
before the signing ceremony. As
he sat there with Netanyahu, he
once again expressed a desire to
strike a deal with Iran over its
nuclear program after earlier in
his administration ripping up
an accord reached by Tehran
with the Obama administration
to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambi-
He said he had been in com-
munication with Iranian repre-
sentatives and told them “you
should wait to see the [U.S.]
election first.” Tr ump also said
“there is nothing... Iran would
like to see better than Sleepy Joe
Biden elected.”
But “ I’m going t o make a much
better deal,” he said, predicting
his o wn v ictory. “ Iran will be very
rich and very quickly.”
The ceremony received wide
and favorable attention in large-
ly government-influenced news

Philadelphia. Asked about Saudi
Arabia, he said that he had been
in frequent contact with King
Salman and that “at the right
time, I think they will come in.”
The last-minute addition of
Bahrain, whose announcement
that it would normalize ties with
Israel followed that of the UAE
with far less fanfare, was seen as
a sign of Saudi approval. The
small island monarchy in the
Persian Gulf is highly dependent
on economic and security ties
with the Saudis and closely coor-
dinates its foreign policy with
After finishing their speeches
on the balcony — from which
opera singers serenaded the
Trump family when he accepted
the Republican nomination for
reelection less than three weeks
ago — the four men walked
down the sweeping outdoor
staircase to sit at a long table
facing the seated crowd, said by
the White House to number
about 800.
The United States, Israel, the
UAE and Bahrain all signed the
Abraham Accords — named for
the three Abrahamic religions
rooted in what is now Israel and
surrounding lands — which lay
the ground for diplomatic, eco-
nomic and other ties between
Israel and the Persian Gulf
neighbors. The two Arab states
then signed bilateral agreements
with Israel.
In addition to their historic
nature, the agreements are also
significant for relegating the Pal-
estinians to the sidelines. Pales-
tinian leaders have rejected the
Tr ump peace efforts for three
years, charging that they ben-
efited Israel, and have called the
two Arab nations t raitors to their


Palestinians shunted

aside in new accords

remarks directed at Netanyahu,
during his balcony speech.
The other issue is what the
White House has said is the
potential sale of F-35s, the so-
phisticated U. S. stealth fighter
jet, to the UAE. Only Israel has
the planes in the Middle East,
and many Israelis as well as
members of Congress have
raised c oncerns that selling them
to the E miratis would violate U. S.
law requiring a “qualitative mili-
tary edge” for Israel in its neigh-
The broadly worded, one-page
Abraham Accords do not men-
tion annexation or weapons
sales, nor does the publicly re-
leased Israel-UAE accord, in
which the word “Palestinian”
does not appear.
The agreements have gar-
nered widespread bipartisan
support, but lawmakers have
expressed some concerns. In a
statement, House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi (D-Calif ) cited questions

significant territory in a 1967
war, and with East Jerusalem as
its capital. Those conditions are
part of the Arab Peace Initiative,
written by Saudi Arabia and
unanimously adopted by the
Arab League in 2002, and which
remains, at least symbolically,
the group’s joint position.
Of the four leaders at the
White House, only Abdullah bin
Zayed, the UAE foreign minister,
mentioned either of the two
outstanding concerns that have
been raised about the new ac-
cords. In exchange for normal-
ization with the UAE, Netanyahu
agreed to s uspend plans t o annex
Israeli-occupied parts of the
West Bank, but it remains un-
clear how long that suspension
will last.
“Thank y ou for choosing peace
and for halting the annexation of
Palestinian territories, a position
that reinforces our shared will to
achieve a better future for gener-
ations to come,” Zayed said in

coverage throughout most of the
Persian Gulf. One partial excep-
tion was in Qatar, whose Al
Jazeera online quoted a Palestin-
ian Authority official calling the
signing a “sad day.”
“The only path for peace for
the Palestinians is ending this
brutal Israeli occupation and
granting the Palestinians their
inalienable rights for self-
determination. Without that
there is no path to peace in the
region,” Al Jazeera quoted Am-
mar Hijazi, assistant minister of
multilateral affairs for the Pales-
tinian Authority, as saying.
Hijazi called the White House
ceremony a “photo o p” t hat “only
crowns Israel as t he policeman of
the r egion” a nd paves the way for
more U. S. weapons sales to the
Arab countries.
Qatar has ruled out normal-
ization of ties with Israel until
the Palestinians are granted
their own state, within borders
from before Israel conquered

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
President Trump and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed sign the Abraham Accords.

In at least seven nations, in-
cluding key allies like Britain
and Japan, approval ratings for
the United States plunged to
record lows. In Germany, just 26
percent of the respondents held
a positive view of the United
States — the lowest rating since
2003, the year of the U. S.-led
invasion of Iraq.
Among the countries sur-
veyed, Belgians had the lowest
estimation of the United States:
Just 24 percent of Belgians said
they had a positive view.
Pew has recorded lower rat-
ings only twice: Both times in
Spain during the administration
of President George W. Bush,
when 16 and 23 percent of the
Spanish population had a favor-
able view of the United States in
2003 and 2006 , respectively.
This spring, even before the

pandemic surged in the United
States, David-Wilp said, German
experts and commentators with
whom she spoke expressed
doubts that the United States
would be able to handle the
pandemic and feared that seri-
ous social unrest would develop.
“And lo and behold, you did
actually s ee that,” she said, refer-
ring to the high number of
deaths in the United States and
the protests against racial injus-
tice that have swept the country.
Trump has proved consistent-
ly unpopular in global polls, but
the pandemic appears to have
worsened his international rep-
utation. Positive ratings of
Trump in Japan dropped from
36 percent in spring 2019 to 25
percent this year — still the
highest of any nation surveyed.
The decline was even more

Source: Pew Research Center THE WASHINGTON POST

Global view of U.S. pandemic response
overwhelmingly negative

When asked what country or group had done a good or bad job during the
coronavirus pandemic, a majority of respondents gave their own nations
good marks.

Our country




United States


74 %

34 64

39 57

60 37

84 15

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