DUBAI: The UAE and Israel have reached a historic deal that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
The agreement, brokered by US President Donald Trump, means Israel has suspended plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
A joint statement from the UAE, Israel and the US said: "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."
The agreement was reached after talks between Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Sheikh Mohammed said the agreement would stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory.
“During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories,” he said. “The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”
Netanyahu said it was “a historic day” and that the deal would lead to a “full and formal peace” with the UAE.
“It’s an incomparably exciting moment, a historic moment for peace in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.
The deal means the UAE would become the third Arab country to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.
The statement said Israel would suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in Trump’s peace plan for the region and focus on expanding ties with other Arab and Muslim countries.
It said efforts would continue to achieve an “enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal,” the statement said.
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Delegations from Israel and the UAE would meet in the coming weeks to sign agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security and telecommunications among others.
They would also discuss establishing embassies.
“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.
Palestinian officials reacted angrily to the agreement, with President Mahmoud Abbas ordering the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE to return home.
“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising, announcement,” said Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
But other Arab countries welcomed the step.
Egypt, which along with Jordan, already has full diplomatic relations with Israel, said the deal would halt Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said this would help bring “peace” to the Middle East.
“This historic step will contribute to strengthening stability and peace in the region,” Bahrain’s government said.
Speaking in the White House, Trump said similar deals were being discussed with other countries in the region. He said a signing ceremony with delegates from either side would be held in Washington in the coming weeks.
"Everybody said this would be impossible," Trump said. "After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalize their diplomatic relations. They exchange embassies and ambassadors and begin cooperation across the border.”
“Today’s historic agreement represents a new chapter in UAE-Israeli relations, one that advances multilateral cooperation and puts a halt to destabilizing actions that threatened prospects for peace in the Middle East. The UAE is honored to have played a constructive role alongside the US in Israel’s decision to end its annexation of Palestinian land. The strength of our partnership moving forward depends on Israel honoring its commitments and acting in good faith to achieve a sustainable and comprehensive solution to the conflict. While the path forward rests in the hands of Palestinians and Israelis themselves, the UAE will persist in its calls for all parties to act in service of the region's security and stability.” said Hend Al Otaiba, Director of Strategic Communications Department