Gargash: UAE-Israel deal will promote peace and two-state solution

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Victor Besa - The National)

Mina Aldroubi

The National  /  September 24, 2020

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs tells Asia Council ties with Israel will support efforts to create independent Palestinian state.

The Abraham Accord will strengthen the UAE’s role in promoting peace between Israel and Palestine based on the two-state solution, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Thursday.

“It will contribute to our joint efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state,” Gargash said in an online session with the Asia Society.

Last month, the UAE became the first Arab country to normalise ties with Israel in more than 25 years.

The move was followed by the historic signing of the Abraham Accord, the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, this month signed agreements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump at the White House.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif Al Zayani, was also at the ceremony, signing his country’s accord with Israel.

The signing paved the way for full normalisation of relations between Israel and the two Arab countries.

“We understood that it is essential for us to divide the political disagreement from other areas of co-operation,” Gargash said.

“It will have better relations and prospects for stability in the region.”

He confirmed that the country hoped to appoint an ambassador to Israel by the end of the year.

Gargash said there had been some talk about Mr Netanyahu pulling away from his promise to suspend Palestinian annexation.

“The presence of the US being a glue that brought us all together is, in my opinion, a guarantee,” he said.

“We have allowed the chance for a two-state solution to work and will allow the Palestinians to engage.”

Gargash said the Palestinians felt the plan was skewed against them and would undermine their aspiration to become an independent state.

“For us, engagement is essential,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this, we have developed and realised that [having] no communication channel with Israel has not yielded any results.”

Gargash said the UAE has urged the Palestinians to communicate and come to the negotiating table.

“This remains our view,” he said.

He said it would be the Israelis and Palestinians who determined their final plan, not the UAE.

Gargash confirmed that the country had not lost a single friend, or gained any foes in the Arab world since signing the deal.

“There has been a positive response. There is an opportunity here,” he said.

The peace treaty has raised the prospect of the US selling advanced F-35 jets to the UAE.

Gargash said his country deserved the F-35 fighter jets because it had been “a very honourable and strong partner in NATO’s operations in Libya and shared the burden in the fight against ISIS”.

Washington has sold the F-35 to allies but sales in the region require a deeper review because US policy requires Israel to maintain a military advantage in the Middle East.

“We are hopeful that it will be a strategic breakthrough and will be a beneficial relationship for both sides,” Gargash said.

Officials in the UAE say the accord with Israel did not represent a departure from support for the Palestinian cause or a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

When asked if Iran was surprised by the treaty, Gargash said: “Tehran was counting on many Arab states having non-formal relations with Israel – they didn’t see this coming.”

The deal with Israel was in “no way targeted against Iran. I think they were surprised”.

Gargash said engagement was necessary with Iran and the US to work on the matter.

Palestinians must understand that their real supporters are moderate Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan and Gulf countries where most Palestinians live and prosper, he said.

“Further radicalising the Palestinian position will not help anyone,” Gargash said.

“A more thoughtful re-examination is what is needed right now, which entails returning to the negotiating table.”

Mina Aldroubi joined The National in June 2017 after six years of working for news outlets in London