United States President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have reached an agreement to work towards “full normalisation of relations” in exchange for Israel suspending annexation of occupied West Bank territory sought by Palestinians. The deal was brokered by Trump.
“The normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel is a huge breakthrough,” Trump tweeted, calling it a “Historic Peace Agreement between our two great friends.”
The agreement came after a three-way phone call Between Trump, Israeli and Emirati leaders. The UAE is the third Arab nation – after Egypt and Jordan – to announce active ties with Israel, according to Al Jazeera.
In a joint statement, Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said Israeli and UAE delegations will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, security, technology, energy and other areas. The two countries would also allow regular direct passenger flights, open embassies and trade ambassadors for the first time.
“As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” the statement said. “The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal.”
The United Arab Emirates and Israel will also accelerate cooperation regarding the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus to “help save Muslim, Jewish, and Christian lives throughout the region”, it said.
At a press conference at the White House, Trump suggested that more diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and its neighbouring countries were expected.
“This deal is a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure and prosperous Middle East,” Trump told reporters, according to The New York Times. “Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as “a historic day and a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East.”
Palestinians call the deal a ‘treacherous stab’
The move, however, generated immediate backlash from groups in Palestine, who said the deal was a “treacherous stab in the back”, according to Al Jazeera.
“This agreement does absolutely not serve the Palestinian cause, it rather serves the Zionist narrative,” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said in a statement. “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.”
A spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deal amounted to treason and should be reversed, AP reported.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s 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 tweeted.