US President Donald Trump has announced that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel have agreed to normalise relations.

A joint statement issued by Trump, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Al Nahyan said they hoped the “historic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East”.

As a result, they added, Israel would suspend its controversial plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, the BBC reported.

Until now Israel has had no diplomatic relations with the Gulf Arab countries.

However, shared concerns over Iran’s regional influence have led to unofficial contacts between them, the BBC reported.

In response to President Trump’s announcement, Netanyahu tweeted: “Historic day.”

The UAE’s Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, said it was “a win for diplomacy and for the region”.

“It is a significant advance in Arab-Israeli relations that lowers tensions and creates new energy for positive change,” he added.

However, a senior Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, condemned the deal, saying the UAE had “come out in the open on its secret dealings/normalization with Israel” and telling Prince Mohammed: “May you never be sold out by your ‘friends'”, the BBC reported.

It marks only the third Israel-Arab peace deal since Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. Egypt had signed one in 1979, while Jordan signed one in 1994.

According to the joint statement, Israel will “focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world”, and that the US and UAE will work to achieve that goal, the BBC reported.