Cabinet Approves Deal With UAE; Netanyahu Says Will Meet Its Leader

YERUSHALAYIM -
(L.-R.) United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump stand together after signing the Abraham Accords, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., Sept. 15. (Reuters/Tom Brenner)

The Cabinet on Monday unanimously approved Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposal to submit the “Abraham Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel” for Knesset approval prior to its submission to the Cabinet for ratification.

Netanyahu said at the start of the special Cabinet meeting:

“Today, I am submitting the historic peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates to the Cabinet. This is the first peace agreement that Israel has signed in over 25 years. We are also completing the agreements with Bahrain, meaning that we will be making peace with two Arab states at the same time.

“This agreement is different from its predecessors in that Israel is not conceding any territory whatsoever. Second, the economic component in it is very dominant, and the economic aspects will be very good for all citizens of Israel. Third, this agreement is accompanied by the opening of the skies, the opening of Saudi skies to Israeli planes, to planes from Israel and to planes to Israel. This means that Israel is no longer a cul-de-sac but is becoming a main hub. It is also important to say that this is changing not only in geographic terms but in geopolitical and economic terms as well.

“I have no doubt that one of the by-products of this historic move is an additional historic change: Chevron, one of the largest energy companies in the world, has decided to enter Israel and invest in extracting gas from the sea which will also add billions to state coffers, and they have always been sensitive to what is happening vis-a-vis the Gulf states’ relations with Israel. In addition to the efforts that we are investing, and which you are investing Yuval, there is no doubt that this agreement is already causing a very major geopolitical turning point.

“This agreement is an agreement that is based on peace from strength, not peace from concessions that will weaken Israel and endanger it, but peace from Israel’s strength. This concept has been with me for many years. I wrote about it 25 years ago. I wrote that the widespread concept that we would achieve peace with the Arab states only if we appease the Arabs with far-reaching concessions that would weaken us was mistaken. On the contrary, we need to achieve peace and we can achieve peace by convincing the Arabs that our being here is an existing fact, based on our strength which is undisputed.

“Six years ago at the U.N., I said that the notion that Israeli-Palestinian peace would assist a breakthrough to the expanse between Israel and the Arab world should also be reconsidered. I said there that I thought it works in reverse – that broad reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world would lead to the advancement of a realistic peace between us and the Palestinians. I said that we must turn our eyes to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, and I think that all of you understand that this peace is being accompanied by very many actions. Most of the actions are below the surface – many meetings, many contacts, very many ties that have been in the making for years.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Yitzhak Molcho and Tony Blair, who very much assisted in establishing these links approximately five years ago, their deepening and their advancement after years of interruption. I would like to thank the Mossad, which has been of constant assistance, and President Trump and his team, the contribution of which was central. Usually, it is possible to say that without exception all of the peace agreements between Israel and the Arab states have been accompanied by U.S. assistance, and here, not only was this not an exception, but there was the direct and very important involvement of President Trump and his team.

“Over the weekend, I spoke with my friend, UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. I invited him to visit Israel. He invited me to visit Abu Dhabi. However, even before then we will see here a delegation from the UAE and an additional delegation of ours will go there. I assure you that we will welcome the delegation from the UAE with the same warmth and the same great excitement as the Israeli delegation was welcomed with in Abu Dhabi.

“We discussed the cooperation that we are advancing – in investments, in tourism, in energy, in technology and in other areas. We will also cooperate, and we are already cooperating, in the fight against the coronavirus. This is already happening. It will happen to a much greater degree. This will greatly assist us in defeating the pandemic.

“I told Crown Prince bin Zayed that this week we will approve the historic peace agreement, in the Cabinet and afterward in the Knesset. These agreements express the dramatic change that we have made in Israel’s status in the region. The Arab states want to make peace with us because they see how we have turned Israel into a major power. They also see how we are standing against Iran, sometimes alone, against the entire world. They understand that we can assist them in very many areas. They see that Israel is neither a burden nor an enemy – but a vital ally all the time, but especially now.

“I have no doubt that we will soon see agreements with additional Arab and Muslim countries,” concluded Netanyahu.