Gargash: UAE-Israel deal a 'death blow' to annexation of Palestine

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs hails move as tangible act to 'defuse time bomb'

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash speaks to journalists in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, June 18, 2018. The UAE is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting against Shiite rebels for control of Yemen's port city of Hodeida. Gargash said Monday that the battle for Hodeida is aimed at forcing the country’s Shiite rebels into negotiating an end to a yearslong war. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
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The UAE's agreement to establish ties with Israel deals a "death blow" to the annexation of Palestinian lands, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said of Thursday’s announcement.

Israel agreeing to halt annexation is a “very big breakthrough,” and “the impending danger to the two-state solution has been neutralised”, Dr Gargash told Sky News Arabia.

He said deep political disagreements remain with Israel and the announcement between the US, UAE and Israel “wasn’t perfect".

“Is it perfect? Nothing is perfect in a very difficult region,” Dr Gargash said. “But I think we used our political chips right.

He said the UAE had been contacted by several European countries in recent months asking what they could do to stop the annexation of much of the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

They said it was a “worry for countries worldwide” that if Israel went ahead with the threats it would make a two-state solution impossible.

After the March 2 election in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz agreed to a power-sharing deal to alternate as prime minister.

As part of the deal, the two agreed to extend Israeli law to Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories that are considered to be illegal under international law.

But the July 1 start date for annexation passed with no announcement, as the UAE and other countries intensified diplomatic efforts to stop the move.

Arab-Israel peace process 

With the potential impact annexation would have, Dr Gargash said the UAE wanted to “try and put one on one together” and “try and get something tangible".

“We came out and argued that in every difficult political file in the region, when you do have bridges and contacts you become more important and influential in trying to effect results and trying to help,” he said.

“The UAE has been always of the opinion that preserving communications and talks were necessary.”

While he said restarting peace talks was a decision for the Israelis and Palestinians, “it is our duty to support the Palestinian brothers in this direction".

“The region cannot move forward without leadership initiatives,” Dr Gargash said.

“Fundamentally, our initiative is not to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict – this is left to the Palestinian and Israelis.

"Rather, it is to contribute to defusing a time bomb that was threatening the two-state solution."
The UAE's ambassador to the US, Minister of State Yousef Al Otaiba, also praised the outcome of the deal.

"Today's announcement is a win for diplomacy and for the region," Mr Al Otaiba said.

"It is a significant advance in Arab-Israeli relations that lowers tensions and creates new energy for positive change."