The United Arab Emirates has become the first Gulf Arab country to reach a deal on normalising relations with Israel, capping years of discreet contacts between the two countries in commerce and technology.
The so-called “Abraham Agreement”, announced by US President Donald Trump on Thursday, secures an Israeli commitment to halt further annexation of Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank.
However, addressing reporters later in Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he agreed to “delay” the annexation as part of the deal with the UAE, but the plans remain “on the table”.
The UAE is also the third Arab nation to reach such a deal with Israel, after Jordan and Egypt.
Here is how other nations – and the various stakeholders in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – reacted to the Israel-UAE deal:
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the accord.
“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising, announcement,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior adviser to Abbas.
Abu Rudeineh, reading from a statement outside Abbas’s headquarters in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, said the deal was a “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause.”
The Hamas rejected the US-brokered deal establishing formal ties between Israel and the UAE in exchange for Israel dropping its plans to annex West Bank land, saying it did not serve the cause of the Palestinians.
“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].”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi , a close ally of the UAE, welcomed the agreement.
“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.
تابعت بإهتمام و تقدير بالغ البيان المشترك الثلاثي بين الولايات المتحدة الامريكية و دولة الامارات العربية الشقيقة وإسرائيل حول الاتفاق علي ايقاف ضم إسرائيل للاراضي الفلسطينية ..١/٢
— Abdelfattah Elsisi (@AlsisiOfficial) August 13, 2020
“I value the efforts of those in charge of the deal to achieve prosperity and stability for our region.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the agreement between Israel and the UAE.
“The UAE and Israel’s decision to normalise relations is hugely good news,” Johnson said 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.”
Iran’s Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated to the country’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said the deal between Israel and the UAE on normalising ties was “shameful”.
Iran’s religious leaders have yet to react to the deal.
The agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will not secure peace in the region, tweeted a special adviser on international affairs to the speaker of Iran’s parliament.
“UAE’s new approach for normalizing ties w/fake, criminal #Israel doesn’t maintain peace & security, but serves ongoing Zionists’ crimes,” tweeted Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, also a former deputy foreign minister.
“Abu Dhabi’s behavior has no justification, turning back on the Palestine cause. W/ that strategic mistake, #UAE will be engulfed in Zionism fire.”
UAE’s new approach for normalizing ties w/fake, criminal #Israel doesn’t maintain peace & security, but serves ongoing Zionists’ crimes. Abu Dhabi behavior has no justification, turning back on the Palestine cause. W/ that strategic mistake, #UAE will be engulfed in Zionism fire. pic.twitter.com/NDNy94laa8
— H.amirabdollahian (@Amirabdolahian) August 13, 2020
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed “any initiative that can promote peace and security in the Middle East region”, a UN spokesman said.
Lisa Goldman, co-founder of 972Mag, a news and commentary site focused on Israel and Palestine, said, “Netanyahu never intended to annex” the West Bank, but the UAE is “claiming a diplomatic victory in exchange for what’s probably a lot of very valuable security cooperation from Israel. All on the backs of Palestinians, as usual.”
Netanyahu never intended to annex the W. Bank. But here we are, with the UAE claiming a diplomatic victory in exchange for what’s probably a lot of very valuable security cooperation from Israel. All on the backs of Palestinians, as usual. https://t.co/bpGp4B81JS
— Lisa Goldman (@lisang) August 13, 2020
The move also struck some Palestinians as ill-timed and insulting for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in the UAE.
Mohammed Hemish, who works in communications at al-Shabaka, the premier Palestinian policy network, chided the UAE for its treatment of Palestinians who moved to the Emirates after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, which displaced more than 700,000 Palestinians, and subsequent wars that displaced more.
OK … so this what hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in the UAE and have given blood and sweat for the building it deserve: an announcement by a far right US president of a normalization deal with a far right Israeli govt. pic.twitter.com/Wpn0xL8WLD
— Mohammed Hemish (@MohamedHemish) August 13, 2020
For Hanan Ashrawi, an outspoken member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s executive committee who has served in various leadership positions in Palestine, the UAE’s announcement was the equivalent of being “sold out” by Palestine’s “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