Israel-UAE peace deal draws mixed reactions

The Tel Aviv Municipality Hall is illuminated with the colors of the national flag of the United Arab Emirates in the central Israeli city of Tel Aviv on Aug. 13, 2020. (Gideon Markowicz/JINI via Xinhua)

“Yes, it is historic, but it is only an illusion of the peace Trump vowed he’d deliver,” Nic Robertson, an international diplomatic editor with CNN, wrote in an analysis.

(Xinhua) — The peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) unveiled on Thursday has drawn mixed reactions from relevant parties.

The two countries agreed to the full normalization of relations, and Israel agreed to suspend its plan to annex parts of the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, according to a joint statement of the United States, Israel, and the UAE on Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it as “a historic moment of a breakthrough towards peace in the Middle East.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech at a press conference in Jerusalem, on Aug. 13, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/JINI via Xinhua)

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said that establishing normal relations with Israel will enable the country to play a constructive role in enhancing the region’s security and stability.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who helped broker the deal, tweeted following the announcement that “HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!”

Screenshot shows U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter post published on Aug. 13, 2020 on the Israel-UAE peace deal.

However, some political observers held a more cautious attitude towards the so-called “breakthrough” in the Middle East peace process.

“Yes, it is historic, but it is only an illusion of the peace Trump vowed he’d deliver,” Nic Robertson, an international diplomatic editor with CNN, wrote in an analysis.

The deal was reached when “both Trump and maybe Netanyahu face elections and need votes. And both are running out of time to cement a legacy, to shore up their otherwise relatively controversial records in office,” he added.

The agreement, which will make the UAE the first Gulf state to normalize relations with Israel, has drawn both denouncement and cautious welcome from regional countries.

People take part in a protest against the deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Aug. 14, 2020. (Photo by Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua)

Huge protests broke out in the West Bank and Gaza after the announcement of the peace deal, with banners writing “Palestine is not for sale” and “normalization is a knife in the back of the Palestinian people.”

Slamming the deal as a “betrayal,” Palestine denounced the agreement as “disgraceful” and considered it a “blow to the Arab Peace Initiative and the decisions of the Arab and Islamic summits, and an aggression against the Palestinian people.”

Palestine warned the rest of the Arab countries against “bowing” to the U.S. pressure.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry also strongly condemned the establishment of diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel.

“It (the agreement) is a strategic act of stupidity by Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, which will undoubtedly result in strengthening the axis of resistance in the region,” according to a statement.

The Islamic republic considers as “dangerous” the UAE’s act of normalizing ties with Israel, and warns Tel Aviv against “any kind of intervention in the Gulf equations,” read the statement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to reporters in Istanbul, Turkey on Aug. 14, 2020. (Xinhua)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey might suspend its diplomatic relations with the UAE, or call back its ambassador over the UAE-Israel deal.

“We stand with the Palestinian people. We have not let Palestine be defeated, or let it be defeated,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

In a written statement issued earlier in the day, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said “the history and the conscience of the region’s people would never forgive the hypocritical behavior of the UAE.”

Jordan urged Israel to treat the peace deal seriously and to engage in direct peace talks to end the occupation.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said if Israel regards the agreement as a means to end the occupation and respects the Palestinians’ rights, the region will move ahead towards peace. Otherwise, Israel will deepen the conflicts that will jeopardize the entire region’s security.

Meanwhile, Egypt and several Gulf states gave their cautious welcome to the peace agreement.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said in a statement he values “the efforts of those in charge of this agreement in order to achieve prosperity and stability for our region.”

“I have followed with great interest and appreciation the tripartite joint statement among the United States, the UAE and Israel regarding the agreement to stop Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territories and take steps that would bring peace to the Middle East,” said the president.

Bahrain welcomed the peace agreement, saying the deal will strengthen the foundations of world security, stability and peace.

Bahrain “looks forward to more efforts to reach a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” the Bahraini government said in a statement.

The Bahraini government also hailed Israel’s decision to halt the annexation of the Palestinian territories as “a step towards peace in the Middle East.”

Oman on Friday expressed its support for the UAE’s decision on relations with Israel.

“The sultanate hopes this will contribute to achieving just and peace in the Middle East in a way that serves the aspirations of the peoples of the region,” said a statement.

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