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Trump tweeted a statement from the countries acknowledging the deal. He then told reporters from the Oval Office that it was “a really historic moment.”
“Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the UAE,” he said.
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This recognition grants Trump a rare diplomatic victory ahead of the November election, as his efforts to see an end to the war in Afghanistan have yet to materialize while efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians have failed. progressed. Israel and the United Arab Emirates are also among Trump’s closest foreign allies.
For Israel, the announcement comes after years of boasting by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government has closer ties to Arab nations than is publicly acknowledged. Netanyahu sought to build settlements on land sought by Palestinians and adopted a proposal from Trump that would allow him to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank while granting the Palestinians limited autonomy in other areas.
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For the UAE, home to skyscraper-dotted Dubai and the rolling, oil-rich sand dunes of Abu Dhabi, they are further tweaking their international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in the Middle East, well let them be ruled by autocratic rulers. It also puts the UAE at the forefront in a regional recognition race among the neighboring Gulf Arab states.
And for the Palestinians, who have long relied on Arab support in their struggle for independence, the announcement marked both a victory and a setback. As Thursday’s deal halt plans for Israeli annexation, Palestinians have repeatedly urged Arab governments not to normalize relations with Israel until a peace deal establishing an independent Palestinian state is reached. .
“Israel has been rewarded for not openly declaring what it has been doing illegally and persistently to Palestine since the occupation began,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter. She also said that the UAE had proposed their “secret / normalization relationship with Israel”.
“Please don’t do us a favor. We are nobody’s fig leaf! she wrote. The official Palestinian television channel Palestine TV reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called an urgent meeting of its leaders to discuss the deal and determine a position on it.
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The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, called the Emirati deal a “stab in the back of our people.”
The joint statement from the United States, United Arab Emirates and Israel said delegations would meet in the coming weeks to sign agreements on direct flights, security, telecommunications, energy, tourism and Healthcare. The two countries will also join forces to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“Opening direct links between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and an advanced economy will transform the region by stimulating economic growth, enhancing technological innovation and forging closer people-to-people relationships,” Trump said. , Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the day-to-day ruler of the United Arab Emirates. He said executives had a three-way conversation to discuss the deal.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the deal.
“This is a remarkable achievement for two of the world’s most advanced and 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 face common threats, as small but strong nations.”
He added: “Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov. “
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Netanyahu tweeted an Israeli flag with a short message in Hebrew: “Historic Day.”
Among the Arab countries, only Egypt and Jordan have active diplomatic relations with Israel. Egypt concluded a peace agreement with Israel in 1979, then Jordan in 1994. Mauritania recognized Israel in 1999, but subsequently ended its relations in 2009 because of Israel’s war in Gaza. at the time.
Besides Trump, the main US mediators for the deal were Senior Advisor to the President and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Special Envoy for the Middle East Avi Berkowitz, Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook and David Friedman, Ambassador American in Israel.
The United Arab Emirates is an allied federation of the United States of seven sheikhs from the Arabian Peninsula. Formed in 1971, the country, like other Arab nations of the time, did not recognize Israel for its occupation of Palestinian land.
“Arab oil is not more expensive than Arab blood,” said UAE founding leader Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, upon agreeing to an oil boycott on US military support for Israel during the Middle East War of 1973.
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The United Arab Emirates relied on Palestinian white collar workers to create their nation. Over time, he maintained his position that Israel would allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on the land it seized in the 1967 war.
But in recent years, the ties between the Arab Gulf countries and Israel have grown quietly, in part because of their shared enmity towards Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Prince Mohammed also shares Israel’s mistrust of Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the militant Hamas group that holds the Gaza Strip.
The state-run UAE news agency WAM acknowledged the deal, touting it not only as a gesture that helps the UAE and Israel, but also as a gesture that also has benefits for the United Arab Emirates. the Palestinians. A senior Emirati official, Anwar Gargash, said the move dealt a “death blow” to Israel’s attempts to annex Palestinian lands.
It is still unclear what prompted Israel and the UAE to make the announcement now. In June, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States warned in an Israeli editorial that plans for Israel’s annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the occupied West Bank would “disrupt” Israel’s efforts. to improve relations with Arab nations.
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The deal gives Netanyahu a national boost at a time when Israel’s fragile coalition government is embroiled in infighting and the possibility of snap elections in the coming months. Netanyahu has seen his popularity drop as the country grapples with a new coronavirus outbreak and skyrocketing unemployment following previous lockdown measures.
Netanyahu also delivered a valuable diplomatic achievement to his good friend, Trump, ahead of the US election.
Yet by abandoning the annexation plan, Netanyahu could hedge his bets before a possible change in the White House. Joe Biden, the alleged Democratic candidate, has made it clear that he will oppose any move by Israel to unilaterally redraw the map of the Middle East and annex the land sought by the Palestinians.
Netanyahu also risked criticism within his own extremist party, Likud, whose members strongly supported annexation. Netanyahu seems to be betting that Likud members – and the small but influential settler movement – will agree that the peace deal offers more benefits than unilateral annexation. Opinion polls have shown that annexation is not a high priority for the vast majority of the Israeli public.
Abandoning his annexation plan changes little on the ground. Israel already holds overall control of the West Bank and continues to expand its settlements there, while granting the Palestinians autonomy over a series of disconnected enclaves. Some 500,000 Israelis now live in the growing West Bank settlements.
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Next year, Israel will participate in the delayed Expo 2020 of the United Arab Emirates, with the world fair being hosted by Dubai. A secret synagogue also attracts observant Jews to Dubai. The UAE has also announced plans to build the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, which will house a mosque, church and synagogue.
Israelis traveling on Western passports regularly enter the UAE without a problem, though a phone call between the two countries still cannot be made. The Israelis are also involved in the gold and diamond trade in Dubai.
Emirati officials also allowed Israeli officials to surrender and the Israeli national anthem was played after an athlete won gold in a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi. Israel also has a small mission representing its interests at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi.
—Lee reported from Bled, Slovenia, and Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press editors Aamer Madhani in Washington and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.
© 2020 The Canadian Press