Palestinians recall ambassador from UAE over Israel deal

Palestinians recall ambassador from UAE over Israel deal

Thursday, August 13, 2020

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JERUSALEM (AP) — The official Palestinian news agency says the Palestinian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates is being recalled.

The move comes after the UAE and Israel announced a deal on Thursday to establish full diplomatic ties that would see Israel suspend its plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

The Palestinians have slammed the deal, calling it a "betrayal" of the Palestinian cause and have demanded its retraction.

The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory to President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deal amounts to "treason," and should be reversed.

The agreement makes the UAE the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. They announced it in a joint statement, saying deals between Israel and the UAE were expected in the coming weeks in such areas as tourism, direct flights and embassies.

Trump called the deal "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 told reporters in the Oval Office.

In a nationally televised news conference, Netanyahu echoed Trump's remarks.

"Today we usher in a new era of peace between Israel and the Arab world," he said. "There is a good chance we will soon see more Arab countries joining this expanding circle of peace."

But Netanyahu said the annexation plan was on "temporary hold," appearing to contradict statements from Emirati officials who said it was off the table.

Emirati officials described the deal in pragmatic terms, saying they had dealt a "death blow" to an aggressive Israeli move and hoped to help reshape the region.

"Is it perfect? Nothing is perfect in a very difficult region," said Anwar Gargash, a top Emirati official. "But I think we used our political chips right." He said the deal dealt a "death blow".

Israel and the UAE do not share a border and have never fought a war. But the UAE, like most of the Arab world, long rejected diplomatic ties with Israel in the absence of a peace deal establishing a Palestinian state on lands captured by Israel in 1967.

That steadfast support for the Palestinians, however, has begun to weaken in recent years, in large part because of the shared enmity toward Iran and Iranian proxies in the region. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the day-to-day ruler of the UAE, also shares Israel's distrust of Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Gaza Strip's ruling Hamas militant group.

Netanyahu has long boasted about fostering closer behind-the-scenes ties with Arab countries than publicly acknowledged. The UAE has made little secret of those budding ties, allowing Israeli businessmen to enter the country on foreign passports and welcoming Israeli officials and sporting figures. Next year, Israel will take part in the UAE's delayed Expo 2020, the world fair being hosted by Dubai. A secret synagogue also draws practicing Jews in Dubai.

Still, the timing of the deal was unexpected, and perhaps tied to the upcoming US election.

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