Palestinian politicians have reacted with dismay to the US-brokered agreement that will postpone the annexation of the West Bank while the UAE and Israel establish full diplomatic relations.
The deal was reached after talks between US President Donald Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an urgent meeting of the Arab League after Thursday’s joint announcement by the UAE, Israel and the US.
“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the surprising UAE-Israeli-US trilateral announcement,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior adviser to Abbas, reading from a statement outside the president’s headquarters in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
Abu Rudeineh described the agreement as a “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause.”
If implemented formally, the deal will pave the way for the UAE to become the third Arab country to have official relations with Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel signed the Oslo accords in 1993 and 1995. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, while Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords in 1978.
A widespread Palestinian fear is that the UAE-Israel agreement could weaken the Arab Peace Initiative, brokered by then Crown Prince (later King) Abdullah in 2002, which called for full Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land in return for full normalization with Israel.
Jamal Dajani, a former spokesman for the Palestinian prime minister, said Palestinians feel betrayed by the UAE, whose move at this critical time undermines their struggle for independence.
“Israel’s so-called plan of annexation is illegal and a non-starter. Netanyahu knew this, so did Trump,” Dajani told Arab News.
“President Trump said that the ‘ice has been broken,’ but in fact trust has been lost.”
Mustafa Barghouti, head of Al-Mubadara (the Initiative), an independent Palestinian political party, issued a statement calling the UAE action a “stab in the back of Palestinians.”
He said the deal endorses Israel’s decision to suspend rather than cancel the planned annexation of large parts of the West Bank.
Hamadeh Faraneh, an Amman-based member of Palestine National Council, said the decision is neither historic nor surprising because it has been known for some time that Israel and the UAE have been in regular contact.
He said the decision is at odds with the Arab Peace Initiative and “amounts to a reversal of the order of things.”
“Instead of the end of occupation preceding normalization, we have now normalization without any idea if there will be an end to the occupation,” he told Arab News.
The joint statement by the UAE, Israel and the US said: “Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation and forging closer people-to-people relations.”
However, Aaron David Miller, a former US peace envoy to the Middle East and a senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, described the agreement as a “historic decision” that represents three wins and one loss.”
According to Miller, it is a win for the leaders of Israel, the UAE and the US, but a loss for Palestinians.