Several Arab countries on way to relations with Israel: UAE Minister Gargash

UAE Foreign Minister Dr. Anwar Gargash during a press conference in Dubai on June 18, 2018. (AFP)

Several Arab countries are in different stages on the way to relations with Israel, said UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash on Thursday, exactly one week after the country’s historic agreement with Israel.

“There are several Arab countries that are on this scale in different stages,” said Gargash during a virtual talk with US think tank the Atlantic Council.

“The region does need a strategic breakthrough,” he added.

The UAE’s relationship with Israel going forward will be a “warm peace,” according to Gargash.

Israeli and United Arab Emirates flags line a road in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, Israel on August 16, 2020. (AFP)

Israeli and United Arab Emirates flags line a road in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, Israel on August 16, 2020. (AFP)

“This is going to be a warm peace. Because unlike Jordan or Egypt, we have not fought a war with Israel,” said Gargash.

Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, and with Jordan in 1994.

Gargash added that any UAE embassy in Israel “will be in Tel Aviv” - not Jerusalem. US President Donald Trump moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, essentially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Israel considers all Jerusalem its undivided capital but the Palestinians see the eastern part, home to 360,000 Palestinians, as the capital of their future state.

Palestinian Muslim worshippers take pictures as they gather for the morning Eid al-Fitr prayer near the Dome of Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third most holy site, in the Old City of Jerusalem on June 15, 2018. (AFP)

Palestinian Muslim worshippers take pictures as they gather for the morning Eid al-Fitr prayer near the Dome of Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third most holy site, in the Old City of Jerusalem on June 15, 2018. (AFP)

Israel's suspension of annexation of Palestinian land, which was part of the agreement, was “critical in our thinking,” according to Gargash.

“The UAE saw an opportunity because we’ve always been urged…by the Palestinians to help us in stopping annexation...by linking it to the suspension of annexation, we came out with a good deal,” he said.

Gargash said the UAE is “very encouraged” by the bipartisan support for the agreement in the US. Republican President Donald Trump took an active role in the agreement and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has expressed his support.

“We expect our strategic relationship with the United States…will actually develop much further” following the deal, Gargash said.

Palestinian protesters from the village of Haris in the occupied West Bank argue with Israeli soldiers, on May 29, 2020, during a protest against the expropriation of Palestinian land in favor of the Israeli settlement of Revava. (AFP)

Palestinian protesters from the village of Haris in the occupied West Bank argue with Israeli soldiers, on May 29, 2020, during a protest against the expropriation of Palestinian land in favor of the Israeli settlement of Revava. (AFP)

This week has seen major developments in UAE-Israel relations. On Tuesday, UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan received Yossi Cohen, head of Israel's foreign intelligence, the Mossad.

The two discussed bilateral cooperation in several fields, according to state news agency WAM.

On Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin invited Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Jerusalem.

Rivlin expressed the invitation in a letter, written in Arabic.

“I'm full of hope that this step will contribute to building and strengthening the mutual trust between us and the region's nations,” said Rivlin in the letter.

Tel Aviv City Hall is lit up with the flags of the United Arab Emirates and Israel as the countries announced they would be establishing full diplomatic ties, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP)

Tel Aviv City Hall is lit up with the flags of the United Arab Emirates and Israel as the countries announced they would be establishing full diplomatic ties, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP)

The UAE confirmed on Sunday that a phone link had been set up with Israel, unblocking phone calls between the countries.

UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi “inaugurated a phone link between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel following the historic Peace Accord,” said UAE Director of Strategic Communications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hend Al Otaiba in a post on Twitter on Sunday.

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Last Update: Friday, 21 August 2020 KSA 07:17 - GMT 04:17
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