“Strategic necessity” led to links with Israel, says the United Arab Emirates foreign minister. But, he says, the UAE will continue backing the Palestinian cause.1 September 2020
Addressing a newly formed Palestinian Friendship Club by video link, the foreign minister said: “As UAE is taking a sovereign decision today for the sake of delivering a peaceful future in the region, I assure you that you’re living in your second homeland. I assure you anew that these unshakable bonds between the UAE and the Palestinians will remain solid and will never change.”
He continued: “[The] UAE’s stance will remain supportive of the Arab stance calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will continue to support the Palestinian cause based on our historic stance that stems from a deeply rooted, unshakeable belief that will never change as a result of any considerations.
“I’d like to assure all the audience here that the UAE sees peace-building as a strategic necessity for the region. However, this strategic necessity will not come at the expense of our support for the Palestinian cause and the rights of our fraternal Palestinian people.”
Last month the UAE, the USA and Israel announced that Israel and the UAE would establish full diplomatic and commercial relations.
The foreign minister was speaking as Israel’s state-owned airline El-Al’s made a historic first flight to the UAE on August 31. It flew over the territory of Saudi Arabia for the first time too.
The visiting delegation, on a direct flight from Israel to Abu Dhabi, was led by Israel’s National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Senior US Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner.
Meanwhile an Israeli former senior intelligence official Gen. Amos Gilead said a very pleasing part of the agreement with the UAE was that Israel had been obliged to take the potential annexation of large chunks of the West Bank off the table. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said he was contemplating this annexation because the Palestinians had rejected the “deal of the century” devised by President Donald Trump.
As part of it, Israel would have taken full control of segments of the West Bank which did not contain the main Palestinian cities but which Israel saw as of major strategic significance to defending Israel against external attack.
“To have annexed would have been so stupid,” the general told journalists at the Jerusalem Press Club by zoom. “It would destroy our security co-operation with [neighbouring] Jordan that has been of immense value to us.
“”It would also destroy the Palestinian Authority, and we would instead have had Hamas control the West Bank or we would have had to resort to direct occupation.
“We cannot bypass the Palestinians. They are our direct neighbours, not the UAE.”
He added: “Thank God the UAE has saved us [from declaring this annexation].”
**Gen. Gilead was Director of Policy and Political Military Affairs at the Ministry of Defence. He was also Chief of Intelligence Research and Analysis in the Israeli armed forces.
“Maj. Gen. Gilead was appointed Coordinator of Government Activities in the [Palestinian] Territories and directed coordination of civilian affairs with the Palestinian Authority. He participated in several rounds of the peace process and negotiations with the Palestinians, and was a special envoy on the Israeli missing-in-action soldiers to PLO Chairman Arafat.
He was the Military Secretary (aide de camp) to Israel’s Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Yitzhak Rabin.