Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached an historic agreement on Thursday to set up full diplomatic relations between the two countries, the third such deal the Jewish state has struck with an Arab country after Egypt and Jordan.
A White House announcement said the leaders of the US, Israel and the UAE “spoke today and agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”
Announcing the deal, US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: “HUGE breakthrough today. Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!”
Minutes later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted out “Historic Day,” alongside Trump’s message.
The UAE’s de facto ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued a more circumspect statement on Twitter, saying “The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”
However the nation’s foreign minister was more direct, acknowledging that “the UAE is employing its decision for normal relations with Israel.”
He said the country was doing so “With courageous initiative, to preserve the chances of a two-state solution,” and added that the nation “calls for the resumption of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, and is committed to working with friends to establish security and ensure the stability of the region.”
Netanyahu had earlier abruptly left a meeting of the so-called coronavirus cabinet declaring, “You will find out why afterward.”
He was set to give a televised address on the agreement at 8 p.m.
According to the joint statement from Israel, the UAE and the US, Israel has agreed to suspend West Bank annexation plans in exchange for the normalization of ties with the UAE.
“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 statement said.
“This normalization of relations and peaceful diplomacy will bring together two of America’s most reliable and capable regional partners. Israel and the United Arab Emirates will join with the United States to launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation.”
At the same time, Israeli officials asserted that the freeze on plans to annex the West Bank was only temporary.“Israel remains committed to annexing parts of the West Bank,” a senior Israeli official said. “The Trump administration asked to temporarily suspend the announcement [of applying sovereignty] in order to first implement the historic peace agreement with the UAE.”
The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms founded in 1971, has been showing increasing its engagement with Israel.
While not acknowledging Israel diplomatically, Emirati officials have allowed Israeli officials to visit and the Israeli national anthem was played after an athlete won gold in an Abu Dhabi judo tournament. Israel also has a small mission representing its interests at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi.