'Palestinian self-determination not for sale': Protesters in U.S. rally against normalisation

Cheryl Sanders
September 16, 2020

But experts warn the agreements are missing their most important peace and could spawn further instability in the volatile region.

Trump did not name the additional countries, but hinted during separate bilateral talks with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan that Saudi Arabia may be on board without saying so specifically. He was joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Zayani.

Media has reported that Saudi Arabia is likely to be the next state to normalise relations with Israel.

President of the American Zionist Movement Richard Heideman told JNS that the occasion was a "historic breakthrough for Israel and her relations with not only the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who have signed agreements today at the White House, but for the future of Israel, Zionism and the Jewish people with all people".

To be sure, both the UAE and Bahrain have in recent days asserted that they still adhere to the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.

But, during the ceremony, militants in Gaza fired missiles into Israeli cities.

Experts say there is much more work ahead and a myriad unresolved issues.

The Palestinians have not embraced the USA vision.

"Today, we are already witnessing a change at the heart of the Middle East, a change that will send hope around the world".

"NORPAC strongly applauds the Abraham Accords signing at the White House". The leaders, who did not wear masks, read statements from a White House balcony to about 200 people below, sitting side by side.

He used an Oval Office meeting before the ceremony to take several digs at his Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden, and to criticize the Palestinians, who flatly rejected as one-sided his administration's attempts to broker a resolution with Israel. As of today, Israel refuses to recognise the Palestinian National Authority as an independent political and diplomatic entity. The Emirates say normalization halted Israeli annexation of settlements in the West Bank.

The ceremony in Washington, DC marked the first such significant agreement between Arab countries and Israel in a quarter-century.

If he wins in November, however, Mr Trump would learn Washington's "friendship" alone will not help foster Middle East peace.

Officials in the home countries cast some doubt on the significance of the agreements.

"We are very down the road with about five different countries", Trump told reporters before the ceremony.

Netanyahu called the day a "pivot of history".

Meanwhile, dozens of Bahrainis took to the streets to protest the deal the kingdom signed with Israel. In exchange, the USA agreed to sell the UAE F-35 stealth fighter jets, and Israel would agree to suspend plans to annex West Bank land. Abu-Dhabi earlier said that despite reaching an agreement with Israel, it is not against the creation of a Palestinian state.

"If Israel wants peace, then the only way real peace can happen in the region is through giving us our freedom and ending the occupation", Ouda said. But a second-term Mr Trump would quickly be a lameduck diplomat-in-chief with much less capital and sway at home and overseas.

Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and point man for the Middle East, praised the UAE and Bahrain decisions.

Palestinian leaders, however, show no sign of reconsidering their adamant refusal to negotiate with Israel in the framework of a peace plan the Trump White House released in January.

"While Israel is largely driven by security interests and could deepen cooperation with the UAE to counter mutual threats - including the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran's Axis of Resistance, and other Arab and African countries - the UAE seeks to amplify its power projection across the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean, enhancing its posture vis-à-vis Iran and Turkey, and bolstering the connectivity of its maritime assets for economic gains", according to Ibrahim Jalal of the Middle East Institute.

In the preamble of the "Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations, and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel", the two countries pledge to continue "their efforts to achieve a just, comprehensive, realistic and enduring solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

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