Annexation off as Israel and UAE normalise ties

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Annexation off as Israel and UAE normalise ties

Historic deal brokered with the US between the two countries includes agreement by Israel to not declare sovereignty over the West Bank

US president Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . Photo by: JINIPIX
US president Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . Photo by: JINIPIX

Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday announced the “normalisation of relations” between them – with Israel agreeing not to declare sovereignty over the West Bank and Jordan Valley as a result.

The landmark moment, delivered in a joint statement together with the United States, heralds a new era of diplomatic and economic connections between Jerusalem and the Gulf states, and took political analysts by surprise.

The letter, posted online by Donald Trump, said Israel and the UAE “share a similar outlook regarding threats and opportunities in the region,” in reference to Iran-sponsored militias and regimes.

Describing it as “an historic diplomatic breakthrough” that required “courage” from both Israel and Abu Dhabi, they said agreements would be signed in the coming week that would cover investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecoms, energy, healthcare, the environment “and other areas of mutual benefit”.

It will also lead to the creation of an Emirati embassy in Israel and an Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi – a first for both Gulf states and Jerusalem – while stipulating a halt on Israeli sovereignty claims, in order to pursue further bilateral relations.

“As a result of this historic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will now suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.”

Board of Deputies’ president Marie van der Zyl said: “I warmly welcome the normalisation of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This is a historic development and an important step for prosperity, peace and security in the region.”

Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.A.E.’s Prince Mohammed Al Nahyan. (Wikipedia/Author US Department of State and Prime Minister’s Office (GODL-India))

Israel and UAE recently raised eyebrows by agreeing to work together on medical efforts to combat the coronavirus, including a vaccine, and said they would “immediately expand and accelerate cooperation” in this area.

It remains to be seen whether other Sunni Muslim kingdoms in the Gulf will follow the UAE’s lead in normalising relations with Israel, but the three signatories said they were “confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs” in the region.

Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, 59, has ruled the Emirate of Abu Dhabi since 2004 and been the region’s most active in facilitating external relations with countries such as France, Singapore and Russia, even mediating between Washington and Moscow, while in 2010 he hosted The Queen.

He is a driving force behind military efforts to remove the Iran-backed Houthi militia from Yemen and voiced anger at President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

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