Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 November 2020

Suha Arafat apologises for protesters causing offence to the UAE after Israel accord

The widow of the first Palestinian president said acts against the ‘generous people and kind people of the UAE’ do not represent the people of Palestine

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is led out of his compound in the West Bank by his wife Suha Arafat to board a helicopter bound for France in 2004. PPO via Getty Images  
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is led out of his compound in the West Bank by his wife Suha Arafat to board a helicopter bound for France in 2004. PPO via Getty Images  

The widow of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has apologised to the UAE and its people after Palestinian protesters caused offence in response to the peace accord with Israel.

Suha Arafat said she wanted to apologise in the name of the Palestinian people in a post on Instagram.

“I want to apologise in the name of the honourable people of Palestine to the Emirati people and their leadership for the desecration and burning of the UAE flag in Jerusalem and Palestine and for insulting the symbols of the beloved UAE country,” she wrote. “The difference in opinion does not spoil the friendliness of the cause.”

On August 13, the UAE and Israel said they would work towards normalised relations in exchange for a halt in the annexation of Palestinian land during a joint call with US President Donald Trump.

The UAE is only the third Arab state to normalise relations with Israel in over 70 years after Egypt and Jordan. Other states, including Qatar and Oman, have ties but no formalised relations.

Ms Arafat urged the Palestinian people to look at years of Emirati support for their cause before taking a stance on the accord.

“I tell our generations to read history well to know how the UAE, past and present, supported the Palestinian people and the cause,” she said. “I apologise to the people and leadership of the Emirates for any harm done by any Palestinian to these generous and kind people who have always welcomed us. I apologise to the mother of the Emirates, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, for this irresponsible behaviour.”

Commenting on the UAE-Israel Accord, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki Al Faisal, the former ambassador to the UK and US as well as the ex-head of intelligence, said in an opinion article on Friday that the kingdom’s price for normalised relations with Israel was a Palestinian peace deal with an independent state.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set a price for concluding peace between Israel and the Arabs – it is the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as capital, as provided for by the initiative of the late King Abdullah," he wrote in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, in which he also recognised that the UAE had secured a key concession from Israel in the form of the freezing of annexation plans.

UAE Minister of State and Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba said on Thursday that he had been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the UAE-Israel agreement, known as the Abraham Accords.

“We are encouraged by the overwhelmingly 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," Mr Al Otaiba told state news agency Wam 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 said.

He also reiterated comments by other UAE officials that the Emirates will remain a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause.

“As we have done for 50 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.

Updated: September 14, 2020 03:08 PM

Editor's Picks
THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email