Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

United Nations and major states praise UAE-Israel accord

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Gargash says the UAE has seen an encouraging response to normalising relations with Israel

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said he hoped the new academic year will be 'defined by great achievements'. Courtesy: Ministry of Presidential Affairs    
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said he hoped the new academic year will be 'defined by great achievements'. Courtesy: Ministry of Presidential Affairs    

The international response to the UAE's decision to normalise relations with Israel has been encouraging, particularly the recognition of its importance to preserving the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Friday.

"The positive reactions from the main capitals to the tripartite declaration are encouraging, especially as it addressed ... the danger of annexing the Palestinian territories to the chances of a two-state solution," Dr Gargash said in a tweet.

The agreement, known as the Abraham Accord, was announced on Thursday after a phone conversation between US President Donald Trump, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The UAE agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for the suspension of Israel's plan to annex large area of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. The accord also envisages travel between the two countries, trade – including of technology and goods – and co-operation in areas such as food security, climate change and energy, according to a statement released by the US.

"Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's courageous decision expresses a reality we desperately need. A successful decision is a give and take, and this is what has been achieved," Dr Gargash said.

The accord was welcomed by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, who said he hoped it would “create opportunities for Israeli and Palestinian re-engagement”.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Mr Guterres, noted that the deal "suspends Israeli annexation plans over parts of the occupied West Bank, something the secretary general has consistently called for".

"Peace in the Middle East is more important than ever as the region confronts the grave threats of Covid-19 and radicalisation," he said.

Europe hails peace accord

Josep Borrell, the European Union's top diplomat, said the UAE-Israel accord "benefits both and is important for regional stability".

"Suspending annexation is positive step, plans should now be abandoned altogether," Mr Borrell said on Twitter. "EU hopes for resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on two-state solution based on international agreed parameters."

Britain and France were among the first European nations to welcome the agreement.

"The UAE and Israel’s decision to normalise relations is hugely good news," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter on Thursday.

"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."

UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said it was "time for direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel, the only route to lasting peace".

France's Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called Israel's decision to suspend its annexation plans under the deal a "positive step" that paved the way for a resumption of talks on establishing a separate Palestinian state.

The two-state solution is "the only option" to achieve peace in the region, Mr Le Drian said.

On Friday, President Emmanuel Macron hailed the UAE's "courageous" decision to normalise ties with Israel.

The French leader also lauded the UAE for its desire "to contribute the establishment of a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians".

In Germany, Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas tweeted his support for the accord, saying he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.

"Normalisation of relations between Israel and UAE can be the starting point for positive developments in the region and give new impetus to the Middle East peace process," he said.

And Spain's foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, said the accord provided a new opportunity to seek peace.

"What we think is important now is to use this context to give an impulse to the negotiations between Israel and Palestine," she told Reuters.

Across the Atlantic, Mr Trump’s presidential rival and former vice president Joe Biden praised the UAE for its “welcome, brave and badly needed act of statesmanship".

“It is a timely reminder that enmities and differences, even longstanding ones, are not set in stone, and of the role American diplomacy can play,” Mr Biden said.

The US Ambassador to the UAE John Rakolta said the country had taken "a bold step towards securing broader peace in the Middle East for generations to come" and noted that it was the first GCC state "to recognise the benefits that normalisation will bring".

Arab states endorse accord

Fellow GCC members Bahrain and Oman endorsed the UAE's move on Friday.

Bahrain congratulated the UAE's leaders on the accord, which would make the UAE the third Arab state to establish ties with Israel. A statement published by the state news agency said the agreement halting the annexation of Palestinian territories was step towards achieving peace in the Middle East.

Oman supported the UAE's "historic" decision and hoped it would lead to sustainable peace, the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency ONA.

Egypt, a strong UAE ally, also welcomed the accord, with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi saying on Twitter he appreciated it for the sake of “the region’s prosperity and stability".

Egypt was the first Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel after the neighbours signed a peace treaty in 1979 and has frequently intervened to mediate flare-ups in violence between Israel and Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip.

Mr Netanyahu on Friday tweeted a message of thanks to Egypt, Oman and Bahrain for backing the accord, which he said was "expanding the circle of peace and will be good for the entire region".

Jordan, which established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1994, said Israel should regard the accord as "an incentive to end the occupation and meet the Palestinian people's right to freedom and an independent and viable state".

Jordan supports "any real effort that contributes to achieving a just and comprehensive peace", the official Petra news agency quoted Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi as saying.

However, Hamas, the Islamic party which controls Gaza Strip, opposed the agreement, as did Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the rival Palestinian Liberation Organisation's executive committee.

Iran and Turkey also rejected the accord. Iran warned of "dangerous consequences" in reaction to the accord. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey was considering closing its embassy and suspending diplomatic ties with the UAE in response. Turkey itself has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years.

In Asia, India, Japan and China have expressed support for the UAE's initiative while reiterating the right of Palestinians to an independent state.

A statement from the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "India has consistently supported peace, stability and development in West Asia, which is its extended neighbourhood. In that context, we welcome the full normalisation of ties between UAE and Israel. Both nations are key strategic partners of India.

"India continues its traditional support for the Palestinian cause. We hope to see early resumption of direct negotiations to find an acceptable two-state solution."

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said the "suspension of the 'application of sovereignty' over the West Bank by the state of Israel as a result of this agreement is a positive development, and Japan welcomes it as a step toward easing tensions and stabilising the region."

China said it welcomed "any measure that helps in easing tensions between Middle Eastern countries and promotes regional peace and stability”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing would “continue to firmly support the Palestinian people’s just cause of restoring their legitimate national rights and building national independence."

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Reaction: The National discusses Israel and the UAE establishing diplomatic ties

Updated: August 15, 2020 04:13 PM

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