DUBAI/WASHINGTON: The UAE
on Thursday agreed to establish full diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by US President Donald Trump
, a breakthrough the three nations say will advance peace in the Middle East and result in Jerusalem suspending its plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.
“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region,” according to a joint statement tweeted by Trump.
“After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalise their diplomatic relations,” Trump said from the Oval Office.
“They will exchange embassies and ambassadors and begin cooperation across the board and on a broad range of areas including tourism, education, healthcare, trade and security,” Trump said.
“Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead,” he added.
Under the deal, Israel would suspend its plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank. The UAE’s official news agency Wam on Thursday shared a joint statement from the United States, Israel and the UAE.
The statement said that President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, spoke on Thursday and agreed to the full normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement,” the statement said.
According to the statement, delegations from Israel and the UAE will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.
“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,” the statement said.
The statement also said that, as a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the UAE, “Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.”
Netanyahu had previously planned to annex parts of the Israeli occupied West Bank, viewing the White House’s plan released in January as an opportunity to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the disputed territory.
In recent months, UAE officials have been vocal in warning Netanyahu against plans to annex much of the West Bank and Jordan valley.
UN, Arab and European officials warned that the move would effectively end any hope of a two-state solution with an independent Palestine that has East Jerusalem as its capital.
On June 12, UAE Minister of State and Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba wrote a letter to the Israeli people in Hebrew published in Israel’s largest daily Yedioth Ahronoth, warning Israel that annexation would be a major impediment to Israel’s hope of establishing ties with the Arab world.
Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted on Thursday that it was “a historic day.”
The UAE and Israel will also immediately expand cooperation on the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Working together, these efforts will help save Muslim, Jewish, and Christian lives throughout the region.
There has been speculation about the normalisation of ties since the UAE attended the January 28, 2020, White House reception during which President Trump presented his Vision for Peace, and expressed appreciation for the UAE’s related supportive statements.
“The parties will continue their efforts in this regard to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the statement said.
“As set forth in the Vision for Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths,” said the statement.
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, it said.
Describing it as a historic day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that it is a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East.
The US hopes that this brave step will be the first in a series of agreements that ends 72 years of hostilities in the region, Pompeo said.
The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel. Egypt signed a deal in 1979, and Jordan in 1994.