Saturday 26 September 2020 - 4:31:43 am

UAE-Israel peace accord supported by 140 US Congress members, will bolster Palestinian cause: Yousef Al Otaiba

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By Binsal Abdulkader

ABU DHABI, 20th August 2020 (WAM) -- The United Arab Emirates – Israel peace accord has received support from the United Nations, many world nations, and politicians cutting across party lines in the United States, a top Emirati diplomat told Emirates News Agency, WAM.

"We are encouraged by the overwhelming positive reaction from the United Nations and more than 40 other countries around the world [so far]. They similarly view this accord as a breakthrough for peace and a framework to create even more positive change for the Middle East region," Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s Ambassador to the US, said in an email interview from Washington on Thursday.

"We were also pleased with the overwhelming support in the United States. Both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign welcomed the announcement, so did more than 140 Members of Congress from both parties, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell," he explained.

Al Otaiba pointed out that prominent US foreign policy and national security experts also praised the accord, including Dennis Ross, former special assistant to President Barak Obama; Dan Shapiro, former US Ambassador to Israel; David Ignatius, Washington Post’s foreign affairs columnist; and Thomas Friedman, New York Times’ foreign affairs columnist.

Asked about reports on more Arab nations following the UAE’s footsteps in this regard, the ambassador said, "I am not in a position to speak about what other countries will do. However, I am hopeful that the UAE-Israel peace accord will be seen as a framework to create positive change for the Middle East region."

Al Otaiba stressed that the UAE will continue to remain a strong supporter of the Palestinian people – for their dignity, their rights and their own sovereign state.

"As we have done for fifty years, we will forcefully advocate for these ends, now directly and bolstered with stronger incentives, policy options and diplomatic tools. Palestinian people also must benefit from normalisation," he said.

"This agreement immediately puts an end to Israel’s plans for the annexation of Palestinian lands and maintains the viability of the two-state solution. Many experts noted that this could provide an opportunity for the Palestinians and Israelis to restart meaningful discussions," he added.

Al Otaiba said Washington Institute for Near East policy Senior Fellow Ghaith al-Omari, might have summarised it best. Writing a commentary published by NBC News, he said, "Israel and the UAE should be commended for this courageous act. The international community needs to capitalise on its momentum, and Arab and international friends of the Palestinians need to urge them to use this opening to explore ways of resuming Palestinian-Israeli talks within a wider regional context."

Asked about halting Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories, the ambassador said, "As His Excellency the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, has said, this accord takes annexation off the table for a long time and creates space in order to resume negotiations around a two-state solution."

Al Otaiba added that on Monday, Senior White House official, Jared Kushner, confirmed this sentiment, saying that the Trump Administration "does not plan to give our consent for some time, as right now the focus has to be on getting this new peace agreement implemented."

In the absence of a freeze on annexation, a two-state solution will quickly cease to be a possibility, the envoy said.

With the UAE-Israel peace accord, "improved relations between the region’s most advanced economies and dynamic societies will support economic growth and prosperity, spur technological innovation and entrepreneurship, and build greater understanding between our cultures," the ambassador said.

The UAE has always been a staunch proponent of a more peaceful, tolerant and prosperous region. "We have always believed in dialogue and diplomacy over conflict," Al Otaiba emphasised.

"In this context, the UAE has sought to establish itself as a beacon of stability, progress and moderation in an otherwise difficult region. And perhaps most importantly, we are fundamental believers in peace. The normalisation announcement furthers that role," he said.

WAM/ Ibrahim Shukralla

WAM/Binsal AbdulKader