UNGA 2020: Former UN chief Ban says Abraham Accord 'tackles mistrust'

Ban says 'durable two-state solution' is answer to normalising relations between Israel and Arab world

Former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon poses during a photo session in Paris on December 11, 2017. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)
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Former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has voiced support for the accord between Israel and two Gulf states, saying it can tackle mistrust in a volatile region.

Mr Ban, a South Korean diplomat who led the world body from 2007 to 2016, praised Israel’s normalisation of ties with Bahrain and the UAE in an opinion article that was published during the annual UN assembly on Wednesday.

“The recent establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and two Gulf countries … is a significant political development that I hope can help overcome decades of estrangement and mistrust,” Mr Ban wrote.

“I still believe that the only way to achieve true normalisation between Israel and the Arab world is for all parties to work towards a durable, two-state solution that delivers peace, justice, dignity and security to Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

Israeli, Emirati and Bahraini officials signed the accord on the White House lawn this month, securing an Israeli pledge to not annex Palestinian land and opening the door to business and tourism opportunities.

Mr Ban, now a member of The Elders group of veteran statesmen, urged the UN’s 193 members to try harder to co-operate against Covid-19 and put “common priorities” above “narrow national interests".

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, called the accord a historic move.

"There is no reason why we cannot move faster and establish embassies and consulates very soon,” Dr Gargash said.

He said the UAE was realistic that a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might not be imminent, but that the accord served Palestinian interests.

"Political issues and differences need to be resolved but need not be obstacles towards building healthy bilateral relations," Dr Gargash said.

"Having communications will be good. This is not directed against anybody."

The accord has opened direct flights between the UAE and Israel and business opportunities for both countries.

"We're here this afternoon to change the course of history," US President Donald Trump said at the signing ceremony.

"After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East, thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries."