Israel and UAE to establish full diplomatic ties, as Tel Aviv says deal will ‘delay’ annexation of Palestinian lands.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates have reached an agreement – brokered by the United States – to work towards a “full normalisation of relations”, a deal the Palestinians called a “treacherous stab in the back.”
Israel and the UAE agreed Thursday to normalise ties in a landmark US-brokered deal, only the third such accord the Jewish state has struck with an Arab nation, in which it pledged to suspend annexation of Palestinian lands.
The bombshell news was broken by US President Donald Trump, in a tweet hailing a “HUGE breakthrough” and a “Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends”.
The UAE is the first Gulf Arab state and the third Arab nation – after Egypt and Jordan – to announce active ties with Israel.
The surprise deal was the product of lengthy discussions between Israel, the UAE and the US that accelerated recently, the White House said.
The agreement came after a phone call earlier on Thursday between Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region,” said the joint statement.
Delegations from Israel and the UAE would meet in coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements on investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other issues, the statement said.
Speaking to reporters in the White House, Trump said he hoped other Muslim nations in the region will follow the UAE.
“Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates,” he said.
Establishing diplomatic ties between Israel and Washington’s Middle East allies, including the oil-rich Gulf monarchies, has been central to Trump’s regional strategy to contain Iran, also an arch-foe of Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a “historic day” and would launch a “new era” for the Arab world and Israel.
Sheikh Mohamed quickly stressed in a tweet that “during a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories”.
Netanyahu said it was a “historic day” in response to Trump’s tweets about the normalisation deal.
In a news conference later, he said he agreed to delay the annexation in the occupied West Bank as part the deal, but he would “never give up our rights to our land”.
“There is no change to my plan to extend sovereignty, our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the United States.”
A Stab in the back
The Palestinians strongly rejected the deal, calling it a “betrayal” of their cause, including their claim to Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the accord.
“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising, announcement,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior adviser to Abbas.
The Palestinian foreign ministry said it has recalled its ambassador to the UAE in response to the deal, The Associated Press reported late on Thursday.
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which runs the coastal Gaza Strip, condemned the deal, which it said was a “treacherous stab in the back”.
“This agreement does absolutely not serve the Palestinian cause, it rather serves the Zionist narrative. This agreement encourages the occupation [Israel] to continue its denial of the rights of our Palestinian people, and even to continue its crimes against our people.”hazem qassem, hamas spokesman
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, said the UAE has “come out in the open on its secret dealings” with Israel.
“Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally and persistently since the beginning of the occupation,” she posted on Twitter.