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Israel remains enemy, does not belong to Middle East despite UAE deal: Hamas leader

The chief of the political bureau of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, Ismail Haniyeh (Photo by Getty Images)

The chief of the political bureau of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has condemned landing of Israel's first passenger flight in the United Arab Emirates, stressing the recent UAE-Israel normalization deal will not change the facts as the Tel Aviv regime will remain an enemy.  

“Israel is an enemy and such a point must remain clear to everyone. Such agreements [like that concluded between the UAE and Israel] and [subsequent] visits will not change the historical and geographical facts,” Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement released by his office on Wednesday, emphasizing “Israel is neither part of the solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] nor of the region.”

He added that the flight was “an unfortunate and painful moment for every Palestinian and every free Arab man and woman.”

The website of the Israel Airports Authority listed the flight taking off Monday for Abu Dhabi last Friday, saying it was numbered LY971, a nod to the UAE's international calling code number.

A return flight to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday was numbered LY972, the international calling code for the Israeli-occupied territories.

Israel and the UAE agreed to a US-brokered deal to normalize relations on August 13. Under the agreement, the Tel Aviv regime has purportedly agreed to "temporarily" suspend applying its own rule to further areas in the occupied West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pledged to annex.

While Emirati officials have described the normalization deal with the Tel Aviv regime as a successful means to stave off annexation and save the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli leaders have lined up to reject the bluff of Abu Dhabi's crown prince and de facto ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that Israel's annexation plans were off the table.

Netanyahu has underlined that annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.

The Palestinians have unanimously censured the UAE-Israel peace deal, which runs counter to a long-standing Arab consensus that any normalization of ties with the Tel Aviv regime has to come in the context of the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.

They say the UAE, as an important Arab player in the region, has stabbed fellow Palestinians in the back.

They also say the agreement does not serve the cause of the Palestinians.

"This agreement does absolutely not serve the Palestinian cause, it rather serves the Zionist narrative. This agreement encourages the occupation [by Israel] to continue its denial of the rights of our Palestinian people, and even to continue its crimes against our people," Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said in a statement after the announcement of the deal.  

The Palestinians also maintain that Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv had long been in talks behind the scenes to pave the way for normalization.

Private jets had reportedly flown between the UAE and Israel as their officials were in covert talks.

The UAE-Israel agreement has also sparked protests and condemnations from Muslim and other Arab countries, who described it as an act of treason against the Palestinians.    

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