UAE Foreign Minister Thanks Netanyahu for Halting Annexation

YERUSHALAYIM -

Hours after the signing of the normalization accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain in Washington, the text of the documents was yet to be made public.

While the world waited for the full, written agreements to be published, snippets were emerging.

According to Haaretz, the Israel-Bahrain peace declaration explicitly calls for efforts to achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

It commits the two countries to “continuing the efforts to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to a document obtained by Haaretz.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan alluded to the key role of non-annexation, apparently confirming what Israeli critics of the deal have been saying:

“I also thank the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, for halting the annexation of the Palestinian territories, a decision that reinforces our shared will to achieve a better future for generations to come.”

Earlier on Tuesday an Emirati foreign ministry official said that while there was only an indirect reference to the two-state solution in the accord, his country remains committed to the Palestinian cause and that “nothing has changed” in that regard.

Reuters reported on what might be a significant inconsistency between the English and Arabic versions of a joint communiqué.

The English version said the accord “led to the suspension of Israel’s plans to extend its sovereignty.”

But the Arabic version read: “the agreement … has led to Israel’s plans to annex Palestinian lands being stopped.”

An Emirati official said the difference in wording was merely a translation issue, not signifying any lingering dispute.

Netanyahu has said that annexation is still on the agenda, and Israel is waiting for the Americans to give the green light, though it remained unclear when that might be.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office published Netanyahu’s remarks at the signing.

“This day is a pivot of history. It heralds a new dawn of peace,” Netanyahu declared in his opening statement.

After thanking President Trump and the Emirati and Bahraini foreign ministers for their efforts toward peace, recalled the “price of war” that the Jewish people in Israel have paid, and then heralded the promise of the new accords:

“The blessings of the peace we make today will be enormous. First, because this peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.

“Second, because the great economic benefits of our partnership will be felt throughout our region, and they will reach every one of our citizens.

“And third, because this is not only a peace between leaders, it’s a peace between peoples—Israelis, Emiratis and Bahrainis are already embracing one another. We are eager to invest in a future of partnership, prosperity and peace. We’ve already begun to cooperate on combating corona, and I am sure that together we can find solutions to many of the problems that afflict our region and beyond.

“So despite the many challenges and hardships that we all face—despite all that—let us pause for a moment to appreciate this remarkable day. Let us rise above any political divide. Let us put all cynicism aside. Let us feel on this day the pulse of history. For long after the pandemic is gone, the peace we make today will endure.”

The Israeli leader concluded by quoting Dovid HaMelech: “May God give strength to his people, may God bless his people with peace.”

Diplomatic and economic ties have already begun a transformation, as the countries work out plans for exchange of embassies and ambassadors, Israeli and UAE banks are signing memoranda of understanding for financial cooperation, airline flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi are on the horizon, along with a predicted surge in tourism.

Israeli government officials and business leaders have been holding a flurry of meetings with their counterparts in recent days, though the traffic so far has all been one-way, from Israel to the UAE.

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, a Netanyahu loyalist, gave Kan news the Likud position on the delay in disclosing the terms of the agreements, saying: “What’s the difference what’s written in the agreement. I trust the prime minister.”