Donald Trump hails ‘historic peace agreement’ between Israel and UAE

13 August 2020, 16:24

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House after the deal was announced
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House after the deal was announced. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

President Donald Trump has tweeted a statement which says the United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to fully normalise relations and establish diplomatic ties.

He posted today: "HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!"

Mr Trump, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed said in a joint statement: “The 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 United Arab Emirates and Israel will establish diplomatic ties in a deal halting planned annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

The announcement by Mr Trump signals that the UAE, which is home to the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, will become the first Gulf Arab state to have diplomatic ties to Israel.

Among Arab nations, only Egypt and Jordan have active diplomatic ties with Israel.

Egypt made a peace deal with Israel in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994.

He then told reporters in the Oval Office it was "a truly historic moment."

"Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates," he said.

The recognition grants a diplomatic win to Mr Trump ahead of the November election.

His efforts to see an end to the war in Afghanistan have yet to come to fruition, while efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians have made no headway.

Following the announcement, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “This is an historic step which sees the normalisation of relations between two great friends of the UK.

"We welcome both the decision by the UAE to normalise relations with Israel, as well as the suspension of plans for annexation – a move the UK has opposed as it would have been counterproductive to securing peace in the region.

“Ultimately, there is no substitute for direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel, which is the only way to a reach a two state solution and a lasting peace.”

For Israel, the announcement comes after years of boasting by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government enjoys closer ties to Arab nations than publicly acknowledged.

Mr Netanyahu has sought to build settlements on lands sought by the Palestinians and embraced a US proposal that would allow him to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank while granting Palestinians limited autonomy in other areas.

For the UAE, it further enhances its international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in the Middle East despite being governed by autocratic rulers.

It also puts the UAE out first in a regional recognition race among neighbouring Gulf Arab states.

For the Palestinians, who long have relied on Arab backing in their struggle for independence, the announcement marked both a win and setback.

While Thursday's deal halts Israeli annexation plans, the Palestinians have repeatedly urged Arab governments not to normalise relations with Israel until a peace agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state is reached.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said on Twitter that the deal perpetuates Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

She wrote: "Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it's been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation."

Ms Ashrawi also said the UAE has come forward with its "secret dealings/normalization with Israel".

The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, called the deal by the Emiratis "a stabbing in the back of our people".

A joint statement from the US, the UAE and Israel was issued immediately after Mr Trump's tweet.

It said delegations will meet in the coming weeks to sign deals on direct flights, security, telecommunications, energy, tourism and healthcare.

The two countries also will partner on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the deal.

"This is a remarkable achievement for two of the world's most forward leaning, 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 confronting common threats, as small - but strong - nations."

He added: "Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov."