Israel, United Arab Emirates reach historic deal to normalize diplomatic relations

Israel, United Arab Emirates reach historic deal to normalize diplomatic relations

Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached a historic peace deal on Thursday that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern nations in an agreement that U.S. President Donald Trump helped broker.

Under the agreement, Israel has agreed to suspend applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank that it has been discussing annexing, senior White House officials told Reuters.

U.A.E. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Thursday any further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory would have ended hopes for peace in the region.

In an interview with Sky News Arabia after the announcement that the U.A.E. had agreed to a deal to normalize relations with Israel, Gargash said the U.A.E. had dismantled a ticking time bomb that was threatening the two-state solution.

U.S. President Donald Trump helped broker the peace deal between the two Middle East countries. (Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

The peace deal was the product of lengthy discussions between Israel, the U.A.E. and the U.S. that recently accelerated, White House officials said.

The agreement was sealed in a phone call on Thursday between Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

The officials described the agreement, to be known as the Abraham Accords, as the first of its kind since Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994. It also gives Trump a foreign policy success as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3.

White House officials said Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner, U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz were deeply involved in negotiating the deal, as well as secretary of state Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien.

A joint statement issued by the three nations said the three leaders had “agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”

“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region,” the statement said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Thursday that the agreement is an “enormous” step forward on the “right path.” 

“This is an enormous, historic step forward,” Pompeo said, adding that it was a historic opportunity for the Middle East to be stable and peaceful. “Peace is the right path forward.”

Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other issues, the statement said.

The two countries are expected soon to exchange ambassadors and embassies.

The statement said that as “a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty” over areas of the West Bank that were envisioned in the U.S. peace plan unveiled by Trump in January.

The Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, Israel’s largest in the occupied West Bank, with a view of the Jerusalem skyline in the background. Under the agreement, Israel has agreed to suspend applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank that it has been discussing annexing. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

“Israel for the foreseeable future will be focused on building this relationship and pursuing all the advantages that can come from having this new relationship with this country, and we also break the ice for doing more normalizations and peace agreements with other regional players as well,” one White House official told Reuters.

Israeli lawmakers are welcoming the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the U.A.E.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who is also Israel’s “alternate” prime minister under a power sharing deal, said Thursday’s agreement expressed an “alliance” between countries in the region who aim for stability and prosperity.

He said the agreement will have “many positive implications” on the region and called on other Arab states to pursue peace deals with Israel.

Gantz thanked Trump, calling him a “true friend of Israel.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, part of Gantz’ Blue and White party, said he welcomed Israel’s backing down from “unilateral annexation” of the West Bank, saying Trump’s Mideast plan would be discussed in consultation with countries in the region.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said “negotiations and agreements, not unilateral steps like annexation” were key to Israel’s diplomatic relations.

The agreement envisions giving Muslims greater access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem by allowing them to fly from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv, White House officials said.

The joint statement said the United Arab Emirates and Israel will immediately expand and accelerate co-operation regarding the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus amid the pandemic.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also praised Thursday’s agreement, saying he “values the efforts of those in charge of the deal to achieve prosperity and stability for our region.”

Published at Thu, 13 Aug 2020 15:34:16 +0000