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Israeli plane landing in UAE violates Arab consensus barring normalization with Israel: Palestinian PM

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has condemned as “very painful” the landing of an Israeli plane on Emirati territory, stressing the highly provocative move violates the Arab consensus on refusing to normalize relations with the occupying regime.

The Palestinian premier made the remarks in the beginning of the weekly Palestinian cabinet meeting in Ramallah on Monday, shortly after Israel’s El Al Flight 971, carrying high-level Israeli and American delegations, landed on Abu Dhabi International Airport.

“It is very painful to see today the landing of an Israeli plane in the United Arab Emirates in a clear violation of the Arab stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Palestine's official Wafa news agency quoted Shtayyeh as saying.

The Israeli passenger plane, which made the first direct non-cargo flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, touched down in Abu Dhabi after flying through Saudi Arabian airspace.

“We would have very much liked to see a UAE flight land in al-Quds after it is liberated. But we live in a difficult Arab era,” the Palestinian prime minister further said.

The Saudi move to allow the Israeli plane to enter the Arab kingdom’s airspace apparently signals the possibility that Riyadh could regularly allow such flights, shortening the route length and making them viable commercially.

The move is also perceived as a sign of Riyadh’s support for the Israeli-UAE normalization deal, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has been sponsoring the so-called Arab Peace Initiative that bars the Arab and Muslim countries from normalizing ties with Israel before a Palestinian state is established.

Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv announced on August 13 that they had reached an agreement that would lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two sides.

The highly controversial deal, which has since been widely condemned across the occupied Palestinian territories and the Muslim world, was brokered by US President Donald Trump, who has attempted to paint it as a big breakthrough.

The UAE-Israel deal marks the third such normalization agreement the occupying regime has struck with an Arab country after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994). The UAE, the first country in the Persian Gulf region to reach such a deal with Tel Aviv, was already believed to have clandestine relations with Israel.

According to the accord, Israeli and UAE delegations are to hold meetings and sign bilateral agreements covering sectors, including investment, tourism and direct flights and the opening of reciprocal embassies.

On Saturday, Abu Dhabi announced it was scrapping its economic boycott against Israel, allowing trade and financial accords between the two sides.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday hosted a high-ranking US delegation, led by White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, and held a joint press conference with him and US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.

Netanyahu said that Tel Aviv was engaged in “many more unpublicized meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders to normalize relations with Israel.”

He also noted that the recent Israel-UAE agreement would “pave the way” for other countries to normalize their relations with Tel Aviv.

The US delegation, along with a high-ranking Israeli delegation, headed to the UAE on Monday morning to meet with Emirati officials.

Elsewhere in his Monday remarks, the Palestinian prime minister thanked the Arab countries that have stood firm against normalization with the occupying regime and stuck to the so-called Arab Peace Initiative.

UAE allows Israel to penetrate Arab region: Islamic Jihad

On Sunday, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement said the UAE, through its much-condemned agreement with Israel, allowed the occupying regime to penetrate the Arab region and a Muslim nation, holding Abu Dhabi fully responsible for such a move.

Israel is “the US’ spearhead and its massive colonial project that targets the Arab and Muslim regions,” said senior Islamic Jihad official Khader Habib during a press conference, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

He also warned against the “Zio-American ambitions” in the region and said Washington was seeking to push other Arab states to normalize their ties with Israel and clinch security agreements that would pose a threat to the Arab and Muslim regions.

“We are confident that no good will come from America or Israel,” he said, commenting on Kushner’s current regional visit to Israel and the UAE, which is believed to push for Arab-Israeli rapprochement.

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