The official signing is set in three weeks in Washington. Meanwhile, direct telephone services between the UAE and Israel have begun; the international community approves, except for Iran and Turkey. For Bernard Sabella, Israel’s pledge to suspend its annexation plan raises questions. Palestinians need a strong and united leadership to re-establish relations with Arab countries.
Ramallah (AsiaNews) - The Palestinians "want peace" and any agreement that can put an end to a hundred years of conflict is good; however, the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) takes place "without the Palestinians being informed,” this further marginalises them, said Bernard Sabella, Fatah representative and executive secretary of the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Mr Sabella said that Israel’s pledge to "suspend" the annexation plan "raises many questions about its real practicality. This is a point for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump with no global significance.”
The agreement between Israel and the UAE “does not lead to an all-encompassing agreement with the Palestinians,” and “is good only for Israel". Meanwhile, the "peace process is stalled” with no progress “in terms of a two-state solution.”
For the Catholic leader, “this is the real point. If you want real peace, you must also involve the Palestinians and work to end the conflict. If further agreements are reached with other Arab countries like Bahrain, we can hope for at least Palestinian involvement, if not approval,” he added.
Following the agreement, direct telephone services have been established between Israel and the UAE. The international community has warmly welcomed the move, but was condemned as a "stab in the back" by Palestinian leaders (both Fatah and Hamas), Iran and Turkey.
After talking with his UAE counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi announced that "soon" the leaders of the two countries would "meet" and join their efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The signing of the agreement is expected in three weeks in Washington, under the patronage of the US president. For Palestinian leaders, the pact is a "gift to Israel" made with the sole purpose of electorally helping Trump and Netanyahu. For his part, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed stressed that the agreement “was reached to stop further Israeli annexation".
“The UAE is a great nation,” said Bernard Sabella, “where many Palestinians work and conditions are good for the majority. In this sense they represent an example, but the fact remains that the opening of official relations will not touch the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian problem. For true peace, it is necessary to work towards the end of the conflict.”
"From the UAE's perspective, the signing is important because it strengthens its position vis-à-vis Iran, boosts its ties with Washington and leads to important economic and technological collaboration, whilst its strategic limits remain clear.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders – increasingly divided, with "Fatah open to dialogue but losing ground to the extremists of Hamas” – are left behind, relegated to the margins of the political decision-making process.
"We can do nothing other than hope that UAE leaders will be wise in applying the agreement and sharing its details,” Sabella said. “Otherwise, the Palestinian Authority will further weaken at home and at the regional and international levels. This is why it is essential to re-establish contacts with all Arab countries, without exception.”