“A new era is beginning in relations between Israel and the Arab world,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued Thursday, welcoming the normalization of relations between the Hebrew state and the United Arab Emirates, described as “treason” by the Palestinians.
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“I had a trilateral discussion with US President Trump and Sheikh Ben Zayed [Émirats] and we have agreed to a comprehensive peace deal with ambassadorial exchanges and trade, including direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, ”Netanyahu said triumphantly in a televised address. .
“The Emirates are going to invest large sums in Israel (…). This is an opening for peace in the region, ”added the Israeli Prime Minister, welcoming a third peace agreement with an Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan.
“In 1979 (Menachem) Begin signed peace with Egypt, in 1994 (Yitzhak) Rabin signed with Jordan and I have the merit of signing, in 2020, the third peace agreement with an Arab country. It is a real peace agreement, not a slogan, ”added Mr. Netanyahu, who also spoke in the evening with Donald Trump on the phone.
In recent years, Israel has developed informal cooperation with regional economies like Bahrain, the Emirates, and Saudi Arabia with the aim of normalizing its relations with those Arab countries that share a common enemy to the Hebrew state: Iran.
In the past, normalization was intimately linked to the peace process with the Palestinians, which was to serve as a bridge to relations with the Arab world and more broadly Muslim. But for Mr. Netanyahu, it is rather normalization with Arab countries that will ultimately push the Palestinians to a peace deal with Israel.
“The Israeli and world left has always said that we cannot make a peace agreement with the Arab countries without peace with the Palestinians (…). For the first time in history, Benjamin Netanyahu has broken this paradigm, ”reacted his party, the Likud.
“Postponement” of the annexation?
This normalization was part of the Trump plan for the Middle East which also provided for the annexation by Israel of the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, a project decried by the Palestinians, many European countries and the region. .
More than 450,000 Israelis live in the hundreds of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, deemed illegal by international law and seen as an obstacle, according to many governments, to the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
The unity government of Mr. Netanyahu and his ex-political rival Benny Gantz was to announce, from 1er July, its strategy for implementing the annexation project.
On the one hand, the pro-annexation movement called for a “unilateral” measure, or even the reunification of all the settlements with Israel, but members of the government fear that such a measure could degenerate or compromise the efforts of normalization with Gulf powers.
Normalization will have the effect of “postponing” the Israeli annexation plan, said Netanyahu, who says he has not, however, “given up” to this option in the longer term.
The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has called the normalization agreement a “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause, called for an “emergency meeting” of the Arab League to denounce it and also summoned its ambassador to Abu Dhabi “immediately” .
The Palestinian leadership “refuses this exchange between a suspension of the illegal annexation against the normalization of relations with the Emirates which is done at the expense of the Palestinians,” added Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who also spoke on the phone with the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh.
Relations between the Mahmoud Abbas camp, in power in the West Bank, and the Islamites of Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip, are said to be strained, but Palestinian leaders have agreed that “all sections of society [palestienne] united to reject normalization, ”a source within Hamas told AFP.
On the ground, the situation remained tense. The IDF launched a new round of night-time strikes on Friday against Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, in an effort to halt incendiary balloon fire from the Palestinian enclave, some of which have sparked brush fires in southern Israel.