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.


Hundreds of Syrians exit Lebanese town over tensions: UN

Updated 27 November 2020

Hundreds of Syrians exit Lebanese town over tensions: UN

  • UNHCR spokesperson: ‘Collective punishment... for a whole community for an incident involving one individual is unacceptable’
  • Those who fled, said they were chased out of Bsharre, a Christian-majority town, after a Syrian was accused of shooting dead a Lebanese resident

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: At least 270 Syrian families have left a north Lebanon town, as hostility toward them mounted over a murder allegedly committed by a Syrian national, the UN refugee agency said Friday.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemned “collective reprisals against Syrians in the town,” of Bsharre, saying many of the families fled in fear without taking their belongings.
“Collective punishment... for a whole community for an incident involving one individual is unacceptable,” a UNHCR spokesperson said in a statement.
Many of those who fled the Christian-majority town said they were chased out by Bsharre residents after a Syrian on Monday was accused of shooting dead a Lebanese resident, sparking widespread tension and hostility.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported forced evictions of Syrians in the wake of the murder, but Bsharre’s mayor denied that the Syrians had left out of fear.
An AFP correspondent in Tripoli saw dozens of Syrian families gathering outside a UNHCR building in the northern city.
A group of young men in Bsharre “assaulted us, threatened us and started a fire” in the house, Umm Khaled, a 31-year-old Syrian mother of five told AFP.
“We picked up our children and ran away to Tripoli,” located more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) east, she said.
Yassin Hassan, a 30-year-old Syrian who had lived in Bsharre for years, said he was beaten by a group of men.
“We ran away... without taking anything from our homes,” he told AFP.
Tripoli is among the most welcoming destinations in Lebanon for refugees.
Lebanon, which is grappling with an economic crisis, says it hosts some 1.5 million Syrians, including around one million registered as refugees with the United Nations.
UNHCR said it received “a large number of refugees from Bsharre” in its Tripoli reception center.
They were encouraged to find alternative housing but those with nowhere to stay were moved to shelters, a spokesperson told AFP.
The reasons behind the murder that fueled anti-Syrian sentiments in Bsharre remains shrouded in mystery.
The Syrian suspect in question has handed himself over to authorities, the army said.
A judicial source said investigations were still underway.
The mayor of Bsharre says the town is home to nearly a thousand Syrians.
Authorities have called on refugees to return to Syria even though rights groups warn that the war-torn country is not yet safe.