‘Landmark’ peace agreement between Israel, UAE
A historic deal

‘Landmark’ peace agreement between Israel, UAE

Israel and the UAE will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security and the establishment of reciprocal embassies.

AUSTRALIAN Jewish community leaders have welcomed the announcement that Israel will sign a diplomatic agreement with the United Arab Emirates.

Israel and the UAE reached a historic agreement on Thursday to set up full diplomatic relations between the two countries, the third such deal the Jewish state has struck with an Arab country after Egypt and Jordan.

A White House announcement said the leaders of the US, Israel and the UAE “spoke today and agreed to the full normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates”.

Israeli and UAE delegations will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security and the establishment of reciprocal embassies, it said.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said, “The agreement between Israel and the UAE to normalise relations and Israel’s undertaking to suspend annexation plans in the West Bank are important steps forward. Australia welcomes these commitments.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said, “This announcement is a landmark moment not only in the history of the region but in the fulfilment of Israel’s founding vision of living in ‘peace and good neighbourliness … with neighbouring states and their peoples’ as enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

“It also deals a major blow to the old strategy of anti-normalisation and permanent war with Israel which has only entrenched enmity and caused misery and bloodshed.”

ECAJ hopes other nations in the region will now “follow in recognising that Israel is a permanent reality and in pursuing peace and good relations with the national home of the Jewish people”.

“We warmly congratulate the governments of both nations and hope this announcement leads to the prompt establishment of bilateral relations in business, tourism, and cultural and academic exchanges to ensure that the state of peace and mutual understanding extends to the Israeli and Emirati peoples.”

Federal Liberal MP Dave Sharma, the former Australian ambassador to Israel, lauded the diplomatic deal as “good for peace and prosperity in the Middle East, good for Israel’s security and supportive of a two-state solution”.

Federal Labor MP Josh Burns concurred, “Peace is always worth celebrating. This announcement is an historic turning point between Israel and the UAE.

“May it be the first of many in the region and it may lead to further opportunities and engagement for Australia in the two economic hubs.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night hailed what he called a “new era of Israeli relations with the Arab world”, and said other deals with Arab countries would follow.

He also insisted that he would continue to seek to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank land, in coordination with the US, but acknowledged that his plan for unilateral annexation was being temporarily halted, in line with the joint statement issued by the US, Israel and the UAE which specified that Israel would “suspend” the move.

“Together, with our joint strengths, we can bring a great future for our peoples and our region,” Netanyahu said, adding the countries would share their advanced technological knowledge for mutual benefit.

“This is very important for our economy, the regional economy and our future,” the prime minister said.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, US President Donald Trump suggested that more diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and its Muslim neighbours in the region were expected.

“Things are happening that I can’t talk about,” he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as “a historic day and a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East”.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) national chairman Mark Leibler said, “Full relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates represents a historic breakthrough, signifying a change to the anomalous and unproductive paradigm that, for more than 70 years, saw Israel and its Arab regional neighbours only as enemies.

“As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said when announcing the breakthrough, it represents a wider change in the region, where today, many states have come to see Israel not as an enemy, but as ‘a strategic ally for stability, for security, for advancement and also for peace.’”

AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein added, “We are particularly hopeful that, as Israeli PM Netanyahu predicted, this move will lead other nations, particularly in the Persian Gulf, to soon follow suit. The potential advantages and opportunities, not only for the states involved, but for the whole region, of full and free relations with Israel, are both great and obvious.”

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “This is a bold sweeping brushstroke in the mural of our history, and it points to a future with more hope and peace. We hope that this important declaration will be followed by similar treaties between Israel and other nations in the region.”

Australian Jewish Association president David Adler noted, “The three leaders concluding this agreement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and US President Donald Trump all deserve praise.

“This breakthrough agreement will hopefully inspire further similar resolutions between Israel and its Arab regional neighbours.”

NIF Australia executive director Liam Getreu commented: “The plans for Israel and the UAE to begin a process of normalisation is welcome news for everyone who wants to see a more peaceful Middle East and, in particular, a stable and secure Israel existing in peace and security alongside its neighbours.

“While we also welcome news that the Netanyahu government is retreating from plans to carry out a de jure annexation of the West Bank, his statement in announcing the deal – that he still remains committed to carrying out the plan – is cause for concern.”

Full coverage in next week’s AJN.

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