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UAE hopes Israel deal brings 'de-escalation' to region

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15 September 2020, 17.04

The UAE hopes the accord to normalise ties with Israel being signed Tuesday will ease tensions that have proved "disastrous" for the region, an Emirati official said.

The minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, held a virtual media conference ahead of the signing ceremony in Washington, where Bahrain and Israel were also to sign a normalisation deal.

"I hope that this will bring a shift towards de-escalation in the region, it will bring a shift towards dialogue, communication, understanding that the polarisation in the region has been disastrous really for the region and its population," he said.

The US-backed initiatives by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have been condemned by the Palestinians as a "betrayal" of their struggle to end Israeli occupation and establish their own state.

Under the deal with the UAE, Israel agreed to suspend planned annexations in the West Bank, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the project remains on the table.

"I think the commitment of suspension of annexation is very clear to me," Gargash said.

"Also, the presence of the United States as the mediator and interlocutor of this really assures me that this suspension is real and long lasting."

Gargash stressed that Abu Dhabi's move was "not directed against anybody... but primarily about us in the United Arab Emirates".

The UAE has "not changed its political position" in support of the Palestinians and their right to an independent state, he insisted.

"I think the heaviest burden was the psychological barrier," Gargash said.

"Once you realise that what you have been doing over so many years has not been working, and once you have taken that decision to break this barrier, then I think everything else becomes more manageable."