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Outrage grows over UAE-Israel pact to establish full diplomatic ties

Palestinian protesters burn a banner showing Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan near the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds on August 14, 2020. (Photo by AP)

Anger is boiling in the Middle East and elsewhere over a recent agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to normalize diplomatic relations, with Palestinian leaders describing it as a “stab in the back” by an Arab country.

Dozens of people raided the UAE embassy in the Libyan capital city of Tripoli on Saturday to express their outrage over the normalization pact between the Persian Gulf country and Tel Aviv. 

Damage is seen at the site of an attack on UAE embassy in Tripoli, Libya, on August 15, 2020 after people raided the diplomatic mission to express outrage over a recent agreement between Abu Dhabi and the Israeli regime to establish full diplomatic relations. (Photo via Twitter)

A number of protesters threw petrol bombs at the diplomatic mission, denouncing Abu Dhabi’s deal as “shameful.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian ambassador to the UAE is returning home, Secretary General of the Central Committee of Fatah movement Jibril Rajoub said.

Essam Masalha has departed Abu Dhabi and will never go back to the Persian Gulf Arab country, he said.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said on Thursday it had recalled its ambassador to the UAE.

Rajoub said former member of Fatah central committee Mohammed Dahlan had helped broker the normalization pact, without providing any details.

Various Palestinian factions in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip have roundly condemned the normalization deal between the UAE and the Tel Aviv regime.

Across the world, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn criticized the deal, suggesting Abu Dhabi was selling out the Palestinian cause and abandoning its Palestinian brethren.

“I think you can’t just let your own brothers down in order to pursue economic interests and perhaps also have more security for yourself,” Asselborn told German-language Deutschlandfunk radio station.

“The Palestinians, the Palestinian people, who are Arabs, are really caught between the ropes,” he added.

The veteran statesman said there had been indications for a long time that solidarity with Palestinians was no longer a priority in the Arab world, especially in the Persian Gulf region.

The diplomat also dismissed the UAE's initial declaration that Israel would suspend its annexation of Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank as part of the deal.

Kuwait to be the last to normalize relations with Israel

Kuwait emphasized on Saturday that the Persian Gulf kingdom will continue to uphold its firm stance against normalizing relations with Israel.

The Arabic-language al-Qabas daily newspaper, citing informed government sources, reported that Kuwait would be the last to normalize relations with Israel, after a fair and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue was realized.

“Kuwait’s position is consistent with its foreign policy approach established for decades in support of the Palestinian cause. It is the Arab world’s issue, and accepts its resolution once the Palestinians do. This official stance is in line with the popular discourse rejecting normalization with the usurping Zionist regime, based on the decree of the late Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah,” the sources noted.

According to the officials, the rejection of normalization with Israel is enshrined in Kuwait's constitution, which was signed into law in 1962.

Major political parties in Kuwait have strongly denounced the agreement, terming it as an “act of treason” and “a crime against the Palestinian cause, its nation as well as Arab and Muslim peoples.”

The parties said in a joint statement that the pact comes at the time when “the Zionist regime persists in its criminal practices against the Palestinian nation, either through direct or indirect acts of aggression, arrests and humiliates Palestinians, steals their lands, desecrates the al-Aqsa Mosque, and constructs settlements and displaces local residents amid utter silence of Arabs except for a number of muffled voices.”

The Kuwaiti parties also called the agreement “unjustified and useless to the Emirati nation besides Arab and Muslim peoples.”

In Turkey, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) criticized the deal as "political suicide". 

“Putting ‘normalization’ on the agenda without considering Israel's aggression in Eastern al-Quds and the occupied West Bank and mentioning the Palestine state with East al-Quds as its capital means accepting Israeli aggression,” party spokesman Omer Celik tweeted. 

Celik said the UAE move should be viewed along with its policies in Yemen and Libya, emphasizing that Abu Dhabi is sowing the seeds of hatred within communities in the Middle East.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkey was considering suspending diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates and withdrawing its ambassador. 

But many observers viewed the threat as another instance of Ankara's typical grandstanding. They believe Turkey's harsh rhetoric has more to do with its dispute with the UAE over Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood and other issues than with Palestine.

Despite periodic hiccups in relations, Turkey and Israel have traditionally been close allies so much so that the Israeli air force used to train in Turkish air space until recently. 

Former Turkish defense minister Vecdi Gonul said in 2010 that Turkey and Israel would remain allies as long as their interests align. In fact, there are many areas where their interests converge, including on both sides' push to topple the Syrian government. 

PLO: Arab League chief should condemn deal or resign

Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat called for Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit to either denounce the UAE-Israel normalization deal or step down.

“If he is not able to issue a statement condemning the UAE-Israeli normalization pact, he should resign then,” Arabic-language Quds Press International News Agency quoted Erekat as saying.

The senior Palestinian official underlined that Palestinians can decide the fate of their own homeland, saying the normalization agreement was a “stab in the back of Palestinians.”

Erekat went on to say that Abu Dhabi broke off its relations with Palestine back in 2014, adding he was not “surprised with its deal with the Israeli regime.”

The veteran Palestinian negotiator denounced the UAE's agreement as “accession to the Zionist scheme.”

“If you are a sovereign state, you should clarify your interest in the normalization deal with Israel,” Erekat challenged the UAE.

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