Knesset to Vote on UAE, Bahrain Treaties

The flags of the U.S., United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain flutter along a road in Netanya, Sept. 14. (Reuters/Nir Elias)

The Knesset was to vote Thursday to approve Israel’s recently brokered agreements to normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The treaties, officially titled “Abraham Accords: Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations,” were signed at the White House last month by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Bahraini and Emirati foreign ministers.

The agreements were approved by the Cabinet on Monday before being presented to the plenum for the Knesset vote.

Multiple MKs were expected to speak at the Knesset session, with the debate set to last for many hours.

The Joint List of Arab parties said Thursday morning that its 15 MKs would vote against the agreement.

“Replacing the principle of land for peace with Netanyahu’s deceptive vision of peace for peace will bring disaster to the country and all its people. This approach ensures the continuation of the conflict, suffering and bloodshed,” the Joint List said.

The impact of the agreements, in particular with the UAE, has already been seen. On Wednesday, the first-ever Emirati commercial flight entered Israeli airspace in the wake of an open skies agreement with Jordan that followed the deals with the Gulf states.

Israeli airspace is now being used by a multitude of Arab countries, including Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as part of the new aviation agreement between Yerushalayim and Amman.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan said on Monday that he and Netanyahu had discussed strengthening bilateral ties and the prospects for peace in the region.
In an official statement that coincided with the Cabinet vote approving the Sept. 15 agreements, Netanyahu said he and the crown prince would meet “soon,” and had extended invitations to visit each other’s countries.

According to one source, the UAE delegation is expected to arrive in Israel on October 20 to discuss and finalize the details of the 18 separate normalization agreements.

The Emirate delegation will attend meetings at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry’s offices to finalize the deal, which the ministry coordinates together with the other government ministries.

Sources added at least “five or six” agreements are in advanced stages, including in the fields of investment, aviation, scientific-technological cooperation, visas and the establishment of embassies, which may be ready to be signed before the Emirate delegation arrives in the country.

UAE’s ministers of finance and economy are set to be part of the Emirate delegation. Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who is the de factor UAE ruler, is not believed to be part of the delegation and is expected to meet Netanyahu on a separate occasion, sometime before the U.S. elections in November.