Palestinians protest Arab normalisation deals with Israel

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 16, 2020

The US president said the occasion marks "the dawn of a new Middle East".

"We're here this afternoon to change the course of history", Trump said from a balcony overlooking the South Lawn. These are very strong agreements.

Mr Trump himself said: "Thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries, we take a major stride toward a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity".

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said the agreements marked "a change in the heart of the Middle East".

It remains to be seen whether other Arab nations - such as Saudi Arabia - will also do so.

"The Middle East is the heartland of Jewish history, the home to our prophets, historical and holy sites", he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said she welcomed Tuesday's agreements, but urged a renewed commitment to the two-state solution. "Ultimately it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all".

Sarah Levin, executive director of JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, expressed to JNS hope that these deals are "a meaningful first step towards warm, active relations between Israel and other countries throughout the Middle East region" in that "peace and normalization should be preferred to the alternative, and this exciting development gives us a renewed feeling of hope and optimism". "In our faith, we say, 'Oh God, you are peace and from you comes peace.' The search for peace is an innate principle, yet principles are effectively realised when they are transformed into action", he said from behind the familiar blue United States presidential lectern.

As the accords were being signed in Washington, rockets were fired into Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Two people were slightly wounded.

For the Mideast, the deals dubbed the Abraham Accords mark a distinct shift in a decades-old status quo where Arab countries have tried to maintain unity against Israel over its treatment of the stateless Palestinians. "I stand here today to extend a hand of peace".

Moreover, said Romirowsky, the signing of the accords "should finally convince the Palestinians that notwithstanding their diplomatic temper tantrums, their strategy of insisting that all peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries be conditioned on a prior agreement between the PLO and Israel has failed".

"Efforts to bypass the Palestinian people and their leadership will have unsafe consequences", Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement. "They want to make a deal", Trump said. He added that he would also be willing to sell the same weapons systems sold to Israel to other countries in the Middle East, as it would be good for the USA and for American jobs. "The deals are stains of shame on the forehead of those leaders who sold the Palestinian cause for a very cheap price". "Both countries have quietly dealt with Israel for years, sharing intelligence against Iran, a common enemy". Israel is now seen as the most reliable regional partner.

Mr Trump enjoyed the optics of presiding over a historic breakthrough less than 50 days before election day, which opinion polls suggest he is now on course to lose.

Earlier, while hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House before the signing of the Abraham Accords, Trump said, "We're very far down the road with about five additional countries..."

The UAE and Bahrain will now be able to purchase high-tech weapons from the USA, as Israel already does, including Reaper drones, EA-18G Growler jets and F-35 fighter planes.

"I would have no problem in selling them the F-35".

Ahead of the signing ceremony, hundreds of Palestinians protested Tuesday against the normalisation deals with Israel.

Clutching Palestinian flags and wearing blue face masks for protection against the novel coronavirus, demonstrators rallied in the cities of Nablus and Hebron in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

He used an Oval Office meeting before the ceremony to take several digs at his Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden, and to criticize the Palestinians, who flatly rejected as one-sided his administration's attempts to broker a resolution with Israel.

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