On August 13th, the United Arab Emirates announced a “historic” deal to normalize relations with Israel.
Reportedly, Tel’Aviv, in return, abandoned its plans to annex the remaining parts of the West Bank.
The announcement was made by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.
During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories. The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.
— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) August 13, 2020
Almost immediately after the announcement, it turned out that Israel’s primary policy of annexing further and further territory isn’t being entirely sidelined, but simply “delayed.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the deal ushers in a “new era” for the Arab world and Israel, but also made clear that he had only agreed to delay annexation and that the plans remained “on the table”, adding that he would “never give up our rights to our land”.
This comes as a surprise to no one.
Trump tweeted a statement from the countries, acknowledging the deal. He then told reporters in the Oval Office that it was “a truly historic moment”.
“Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates,” he said.
Trump said the leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates would sign their historic peace accord in the White House in around three weeks.
“Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economics will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation and forging closer people-to-people relations,” said the statement by Trump, Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the deal.
“This is a remarkable achievement for two of the world’s most forward leaning, technologically advanced states, and reflects their shared regional vision of an economically integrated region,” he said in a statement. “It also illustrates their commitment to confronting common threats, as small – but strong – nations.”
He added: “Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov.”
For the Palestinians who have relied on Arab backing in their struggle for independence, the announcement marked both a win and setback. It’s a win because it’s apparently a freezing of annexation plans, but at the same time, if it’s simply temporary, then it means that a typical ally in the face of the UAE has abandoned the cause, in a way.
President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas expressed his “strong rejection and condemnation” of the deal called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League.
In a statement, Abbas called the deal an “aggression” against the Palestinian people and a “betrayal” of their cause, including their claim to Jerusalem as a capital of their future state.
“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising announcement,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior adviser to Abbas.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s executive committee who has served in various leadership positions in Palestine, said the UAE’s announcement was the equivalent of being “sold out” by “friends”.
May you never experience the agony of having your country stolen; may you never feel the pain of living in captivity under occupation; may you never witness the demolition of your home or murder of your loved ones. May you never be sold out by your "friends." https://t.co/CBaNl1QQqx
— Hanan Ashrawi (@DrHananAshrawi) August 13, 2020
“This agreement does absolutely not serve the Palestinian cause, it rather serves the Zionist narrative. This agreement encourages the occupation [by Israel] to continue its denial of the rights of our Palestinian people, and even to continue its crimes against our people,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said in a statement.
“What is required is to support the legitimate struggle of our people against the occupation and not to establish agreements with this occupier, and any annexation we will face by a Palestinian confrontation that is supported by the Arabs and internationally, and not by signing normalisation agreements with them [Israel].”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said hoped the Israel-UAE deal can help realise a two-state solution with the Palestinians for peace in the Middle East.
Guterres said annexation would “effectively close the door” on negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and “destroy the prospect” of a viable Palestinian state under a two-state solution.
Jordan said that the UAE-Israel deal could push forward stalled peace negotiations if it succeeds in prodding Israel to accept a Palestinian state on land that had been occupied by Israel in 1967.
“If Israel dealt with it as an incentive to end occupation … it will move the region towards a just peace,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a statement on state media.
Safadi said the agreement must be followed by Israel ending any unilateral moves to annex territory in the occupied West Bank that “obstruct peace prospects and violate Palestinian rights”.
“The region is at a crossroads … continued occupation and denial of the Palestinian peoples’ legitimate rights won’t bring peace or security,” Safadi added.
Right-wing Israelis were expected displeased, since they don’t wish anything to be a setback to the annexation plans.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a close ally of the UAE, welcomed the agreement.
٢/٢ ..و اتخاذ خطوات من شأنها إحلال السلام في الشرق الأوسط كما أثمن جهود القائمين علي هذا الاتفاق من أجل تحقيق الازدهار و الاستقرار لمنطقتنا.
— Abdelfattah Elsisi (@AlsisiOfficial) August 13, 2020
“I followed with interest and appreciation the joint statement between the United States, United Arab Emirates and Israel to halt the Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands and taking steps to bring peace in the Middle East,” el-Sisi said on Twitter.
“I value the efforts of those in charge of the deal to achieve prosperity and stability for our region.”
Iran strongly condemned the deal.
Iran called it an act of “strategic stupidity” that will only strengthen the Tehran-backed “axis of resistance”.
The Iranian foreign ministry denounced the deal as an act of “strategic stupidity from Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv”.
“The oppressed people of Palestine and all the free nations of the world will never forgive the normalising of relations with the criminal Israeli occupation regime and the complicity in its crimes,” a ministry statement said.
“This is stabbing the Palestinians in the back and will strengthen the regional unity against the Zionist regime.”
Turkey, said history will not forget and never forgive the “hypocritical behaviour” of the United Arab Emirates in agreeing a deal with Israel to normalise relations.
The Palestinian people and administration were right to react strongly against the agreement, the foreign ministry said.
“History and the conscience of the region’s peoples will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behaviour of the UAE, betraying the Palestinian cause for the sake of its narrow interests,” it said in a statement.
“It is extremely worrying that the UAE should, with a unilateral action, try and do away with the  Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab League. It is not in the slightest credible that this three-way declaration should be presented as supporting the Palestinian cause.”
France welcomed Israel’s decision to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank under the historic agreement, calling it a “positive step”, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement, adding that the suspension “must become a definitive measure”.
Germany welcomed the “historic” deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
“The normalization of ties between the two countries “is an important contribution to peace in the region”, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the deal.
“The UAE and Israel’s decision to normalize relations is hugely good news,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It was my profound hope that annexation did not go ahead in the West Bank and today’s agreement to suspend those plans is a welcome step on the road to a more peaceful Middle East,” Johnson continued.
Generally, the decision appears questionable at best, and it is unlikely to lead to any long-term change of policy in Israel, since that’s the country’s premier policy since it was formed.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Iran And Hezbollah Set Up New Force To Knock Out Israeli Forces In Golan Heights
- Evolution Of US-Israel Relations During Trump Presidency