UAE-Israel deal hailed abroad, Palestinians cry treason

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Jerusalem | The landmark deal to normalize relations between the UAE and Israel is raising hopes among world leaders for a resumption of moribund Middle East peace talks, as Palestinians and some of their allies denounce treason.

• Read also: Historic UAE-Israel Normalization Agreement

• Read also: Israel / Emirates agreement signed within three weeks in Washington

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The United Arab Emirates and Israel must sign within three weeks in Washington this agreement announced by surprise Thursday by US President Donald Trump. It was concluded under the aegis of the United States and will make Abu Dhabi the third Arab capital to follow this path since the creation of the Hebrew state in 1948, after Egypt and Jordan.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday appointed the head of the National Security Council, an entity that advises him on geostrategic issues, Meir Ben Shabbat, to lead talks with the Emiratis.

As part of the agreement, Israel has pledged to suspend its plan to annex Palestinian territories, a concession hailed by European governments and some Arab governments as an encouragement to hopes for peace.

But Mr. Netanyahu said annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank was only “postponed” and that Israel had “not given up.”

The Palestinians have strongly rejected the deal, calling it a “betrayal” of their cause, including their demand to make East Jerusalem, occupied and annexed by Israel, the capital of the state to which they aspire. They also announced the recall of their ambassador to the Emirates and demanded an emergency meeting of the Arab League.

After the big Friday prayer in Jerusalem, worshipers outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque walked over photos of the strongman of the Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyane. In the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, people set photos of Sheikh Mohammed, Netanyahu and Trump on fire.

In Ramallah, West Bank, Jihad Hussein blasted the deal: “The Palestinian people have been stabbed in the back by the leadership of the Emirates. But neither this agreement nor anything else will undermine our will to fight for freedom and independence, ”said the resident.

“Important contribution to peace”

Still, the agreement gives rise to hopes abroad of relaunching the Israeli-Palestinian talks, which have stopped since 2014.

Germany thus estimated on Friday that it was an “important contribution to peace in the region” which would “help give new impetus to the peace process in the Middle East”.

For its part, France saw in it a “new state of mind” which should “henceforth allow the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians with a view to the establishment of two States”.

The European Union underlined the 27’s commitment to a two-state solution: “We are, of course, ready to work for the resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the spokeswoman said. from the head of diplomacy, Nabila Massrali.

Donald Trump’s controversial peace plan, unveiled in January, offered Israel a path to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements across the occupied West Bank, considered illegal under international law.

The Palestinians had rejected it just like Israel’s Arab neighbors, raising fears of a further escalation in a region where tensions are high.

After the UAE-Israel deal was announced, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saw “an opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume substantive negotiations, leading to a two-state solution in accordance with resolutions UN ”.

Annexation would effectively “close the door” to negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership and “destroy the prospect” of a viable Palestinian state, he said.

Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Egypt, Oman and Bahrain for their “support” for the agreement. Saudi Arabia, a heavyweight in the region, has not reacted.

“One can certainly imagine that Bahrain and / or Oman will end up concluding a formal agreement with Israel,” said Hussein Ibish, analyst at the Arab Gulf States Institute, excluding however a similar agreement in the near future with Saudi Arabia.

“Their little interests”

In contrast, Iran and Turkey sharply criticized the UAE’s “betrayal”.

Tehran condemned this agreement described as “strategic stupidity of Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv which will undoubtedly strengthen the axis of resistance”, in reference to Tehran’s allies in the Middle East.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a longtime critic of Israel and often at odds with Western powers, has threatened to suspend diplomatic relations with the Emirates or to recall the Ankara ambassador.

Ankara accused the Emirates of “betraying the Palestinian cause” by agreeing to sign this agreement backed by the United States to “serve their small interests”.

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