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UAE advancing normalization by sending envoy to Israel: Hamas

The UAE's first ambassador to the Israeli-occupied territories, Mohammad Mahmoud al- Khajah, presents his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds on March 1, 2021. (Photo by the Times of Israel online newspaper)

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has slammed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for sending an envoy to the Israeli-occupied territories, saying the move shows Abu Dhabi is determined to insist on its “sin” of normalization with Tel Aviv.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, in a statement released on Monday, reacted to news of UAE envoy Mohamed Mahmoud al-Khajah delivering his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds earlier in the day.

The statement said the move reflected Abu Dhabi’s insistence on committing the “national sin” of normalizing relations with the Tel Aviv regime.

“Normalization will always encourage the Israeli Occupation to deny our Palestinian people’s rights, and continue its crimes against all segments of the Arab world,” Qassem said.

On February 14, UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum swore in his country’s first ambassador to the occupied territories.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani during an official ceremony hosted by ex-US president Donald Trump at the White House on September 15 last year.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital view the deals as a betrayal of their cause.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas protested the normalization deals with Israel, saying they will be fruitless as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian nation and refuse to resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Abu Dhabi claimed that the normalization deal with Israel served Palestine by suspending an Israeli plan to annex more Palestinian lands.

However, despite such a claim, the Israeli regime has significantly stepped up its much-criticized land grab projects since its normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain — followed by Sudan and Morocco

The UAE and Bahrain have dramatically slashed their financial assistance to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after the two Persian Gulf states agreed to clinch US-brokered deals to normalize ties with Israel last August.

Israeli Channel 12 television network, citing the Center for Near East Policy Research, reported on February 5 that while the UAE funded the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) $53 million and $51 million in 2018 and 2019 respectively, it provided the agency with a mere $1 million last year.

The report added that Bahrain had also cut funds, but did not provide any figures. UNRWA confirmed the account.

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