Gargash says UAE has seen encouraging response to accord with Israel

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The international response to the UAE's decision to normalise relations with Israel has been encouraging, particularly the recognition of its importance to preserving the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Friday.

"The positive reactions from the main capitals to the tripartite declaration are encouraging, especially as it addressed ... the danger of annexing the Palestinian territories to the chances of a two-state solution," Dr Gargash said in a tweet.

The agreement, known as the Abraham Accord, was announced on Thursday after a phone conversation between US President Donald , Sheikh , Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The UAE agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for the suspension of Israel's plan to annex large area of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. The accord also envisages travel between the two countries, trade – including of technology and goods – and co-operation in areas such as food security, climate change and energy, according to a statement released by the US.

"Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's courageous decision expresses a reality we desperately need. A successful decision is a give and take, and this is what has been achieved," Dr Gargash said.

The accord was welcomed by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, who said he hoped it would “create opportunities for Israeli and Palestinian re-engagement”.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Mr Guterres, noted that the deal "suspends Israeli annexation plans over parts of the occupied West Bank, something the secretary general has consistently called for".

"Peace in the Middle East is more important than ever as the region confronts the grave threats of Covid-19 and radicalisation," he said.

Britain and France were among the first European nations to welcome the agreement.

"The UAE and Israel’s decision to normalise relations is hugely good news," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter.

"It was my profound hope that annexation did not go ahead in the West Bank and today’s agreement to suspend those plans is a welcome step on the road to a more peaceful Middle East."

UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said it was "time for direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel, the only route to lasting peace".

France's Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called Israel's decision to suspend its annexation plans under the deal a "positive step" that paved the way for a resumption of talks on establishing a separate Palestinian state.

The two-state solution is "the only option" to achieve peace in the region, Mr Le Drian said.

On Friday, German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas tweeted his support for the accord, saying he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at the White House in Washington, DC. Bloomberg

The agreement, known as the Abraham Accord, was announced on Thursday after a phone conversation between US President Donald Trump, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.. AP Photo

The city hall in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv is lit up in the colours of the UAE national flag after the deal was announced. AFP

The city hall in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv is lit up in the colours of the UAE national flag after the deal was announced. Reuters

The UAE agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for the suspension of Israel's plan to annex large area of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. AFP

The accord envisages travel between the UAE and Israel, , trade and co-operation in areas such as food security, climate change and energy, according to a statement released by the US.. AFP

The accord was welcomed by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov. AP Photo

"Normalisation of relations between Israel and UAE can be the starting point for positive developments in the region and give new impetus to the Middle East peace process," he said.

In the US, Mr Trump’s presidential rival and former vice president Joe Biden praised the UAE for its “welcome, brave and badly needed act of statesmanship".

“It is a timely reminder that enmities and differences, even longstanding ones, are not set in stone, and of the role American diplomacy can play,” Mr Biden said.

Fellow GCC members Bahrain and Oman endorsed the UAE's move on Friday.

Bahrain congratulated the UAE's leaders on the accord, which would make the UAE the third Arab state to establish ties with Israel. A statement published by the state news agency said the agreement halting the annexation of Palestinian territories was step towards achieving peace in the Middle East.

Oman supported the UAE's "historic" decision and hoped it would lead to sustainable peace, the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency ONA.

Egypt, a strong UAE ally, also welcomed the accord, with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi saying on Twitter he appreciated it for the sake of “the region’s prosperity and stability".

Egypt was the first Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel after the neighbours signed a peace treaty in 1979 and has frequently intervened to mediate flare-ups in violence between Israel and Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip.

Jordan, which established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1994, said Israel should regard the accord as "an incentive to end the occupation and meet the Palestinian people's right to freedom and an independent and viable state".

Jordan supports "any real effort that contributes to achieving a just and comprehensive peace", the official Petra news agency quoted Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi as saying.

However, Hamas, the Islamic party which controls Gaza Strip, opposed the agreement, as did Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the rival Palestinian Liberation Organisation's executive committee.

Iran and Turkey also rejected the accord. Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years.

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Reaction: The National discusses Israel and the UAE establishing diplomatic ties

Updated: August 14, 2020 01:38 PM

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