UAE foreign minister: Israel deal paves way for comprehensive Middle East peace

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In this image made from UNTV video, UAE foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at UN headquarters in New York. (UNTV via AP)
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In this image made from UNTV video, Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood AlBusaidi, foreign minister of Oman, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at U.N. headquarters. (UNTV via AP)
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Updated 30 September 2020

UAE foreign minister: Israel deal paves way for comprehensive Middle East peace

  • UAE position toward supporting Palestinian people, achieving two-state solution is firm

LONDON: The signing of the Abraham Accord with Israel will increase prospects of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, the UAE’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said the US-brokered agreement signed in Washington this month had frozen Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank.
“The call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with international resolutions and the Arab and international consensus will remain a firm demand,” Sheikh Abdullah told the UN General Assembly.
“My country has made persistent efforts using all available diplomatic channels to affirm our total rejection of the annexation of Palestinian territory and we have warned on its impact on all parties and on the security of the region,” he added.
The UAE and Bahrain became only the third and fourth Arab states to normalize relations with Israel when they signed the agreements at the White House.
Speaking in a prerecorded message, Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE hoped the accords would provide the opportunity for the Palestinians and the Israelis to “reengage in negotiations to achieve peace.” 
“The UAE’s position toward supporting the Palestinian people and achieving the two-state solution is firm,” he said.

Speaking about opportunities with Israel from the deal, Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE would work to ensure the accord will open “new intellectual horizons in the region and create a prosperous path for future generations “who deserve a stable region and a better reality than wars and poverty.”
Sheikh Abdullah used his speech to reiterate that the UAE has a “legitimate right of sovereignty” over three Gulf islands, which are occupied by Iran.
Iran took control of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa, in 1971 “in flagrant violation of international law.” 
He also called on Iran to stop developing ballistic missiles and arming terrorist groups.
The UAE, he said, is particularly concerned that restrictions imposed on Iran under its nuclear agreement with world powers are soon due to expire, “since the nuclear agreement did not achieve its desired outcome.”
Sheikh Abdullah hit out more broadly at countries interfering in Arab affairs.
“The flash points in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and others are linked to crude interventions in Arab affairs by countries to re-establish control and colonialism over the Arab region and the Horn of Africa, which caused bloody wars,” he said.
Along with Iran, Arab countries are increasingly concerned at Turkey’s role in the region after it ramped up military involvement in countries like Libya.
He said the UAE has deep concern over Turkey’s military interference in Libya, which is “an alarming part of regional interference in Arab affairs that exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, undermined efforts to reach a peaceful solution and destabilized the entire region.”
On Yemen, he said the UAE commends the efforts made by Saudi Arabia to restore peace oil the country and reiterates its support for the Riyadh Agreement, calling for a unified Yemeni position to reach a sustainable solution.
“We strongly believe that stability in Yemen can be restored, especially within the current environment that could lead to a complete cease-fire and a permanent political solution under the auspices of the UN.”
Sheikh Abdullah announced the UAE’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the period 2022-2023.
Meanwhile, Oman reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian people, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Oman's foreign minister Badr Albusaidi also called on Yemeni parties to join UN-backed dialogue to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict.
The Sultanate also called on the international community to support Lebanon's reconstruction efforts and help it grapple with the impact of the tragic explosion.

Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

Turkish Cypriot politician Ersin Tatar celebrates his election victory in Turkish-controlled northern Nicosia, Cyprus October 18, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 October 2020

Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

  • The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months

NICOSIA: Turkish Cypriots in breakaway northern Cyprus on Sunday narrowly elected right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar, backed by Ankara, in a run-off poll, at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tatar, 60, clinched his surprise victory in a second round of presidential elections, winning 51.7 percent of the vote, official results showed.
He edged out incumbent Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, 72, a supporter of reunification with the Greek Cypriot south of the divided island, leaving attempts to relaunch long-stalled UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.
Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution and held the post of premier in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized only by Ankara.
He controversially received the open backing of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the election campaign.
In a victory speech to hundreds of cheering and Turkish flag-waving supporters, Tatar thanked Turkey’s head of state and said: “We deserve our sovereignty — we are the voice of Turkish Cypriots.
“We are fighting to exist within the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, therefore our neighbors in the south and the world community should respect our fight for freedom.”
There was no immediate official reaction from the Greek Cypriot government or ruling party in the south of the island, which is a European Union member state, although opposition parties were quick to lament the outcome.
Erdogan was swift to celebrate the victory, which followed a high 67-percent turnout at the polls.
“I congratulate Ersin Tatar who has been elected president ... Turkey will continue to provide all types of efforts to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people,” he wrote on Twitter.


Ersin Tatar edged out incumbent Mustafa Akinc, leaving attempts to relaunch UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.

In a telephone call the same night, Erdogan said he was confident the two leaders would maintain close cooperation in all areas, “starting with the hydrocarbon linked activities in the eastern Mediterranean,” his office said.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has become an increasingly assertive regional power that is now engaged in a bitter dispute with Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters.
The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months.
The second-round ballot was triggered after Tatar won 32 percent of the vote on Oct. 11 ahead of Akinci, who garnered just under 30 percent.
Akinci was tipped to secure a second term, having won the backing of Tufan Erhurman, a fellow social democrat who came third last time around.
After his defeat, Akinci, who had accused Ankara of meddling in the polls, thanked his supporters and said: “You know what happened ... I am not going to do politics on this.”
The TRNC, with a population of about 300,000, was established after the north was occupied by Turkey in 1974 in reaction to a coup that aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece.
Earlier in October, Turkish troops angered the Republic of Cyprus by reopening public access to the fenced-off seaside ghost town of Varosha for the first time since Turkish forces invaded the north.
The reopening was announced jointly by Erdogan and Tatar at a meeting in Ankara just days before the first round of polling.
It drew EU and UN criticism and sparked demonstrations in the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises its authority over the island’s south, separated from the TRNC by a UN-patrolled buffer zone.
On the eve of Sunday’s vote, Greek Cypriot demonstrators massed at a checkpoint along the so-called “Green Line,” holding signs that read “Cyprus is Greek,” in protest at the reopening of nearby Varosha to the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey has repeatedly said it seeks to defend Turkish and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Akinci’s relationship with Ankara had come under strain, especially after he described the prospect of the north’s annexation by Turkey as “horrible” in February.
When Akinci took office in 2015, he was hailed as the leader best placed to revive peace talks.
But hopes were dashed in July 2017 after UN-mediated negotiations collapsed in Switzerland, notably over Greek Cypriot demands for the withdrawal of the tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers still stationed in the TRNC.