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August 13, 2020 2:38 pm

Netanyahu Hails ‘New Era’ in Israel’s Relations With Arab World After UAE Peace Deal

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a peace agreement between his country and the United Arab Emirates, at his office in Jerusalem, Aug. 13, 2020. Photo: Abir Sultan / Pool via Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the coming of a “new era” in his country’s relations with the Arab world on Thursday, as he officially announced a historic peace agreement between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates.

Under the agreement, Israel and the UAE will establish formal diplomatic relations and undertake collaboration in various fields, including fighting the coronavirus, economic progress and tourism.

Israel has agreed to suspend applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank that it has been discussing annexing, senior White House officials told Reuters.

The deal was the product of lengthy discussions between Israel, the UAE and the United States that accelerated recently, White House officials said.

The agreement was sealed in a phone call on Thursday between US President Donald Trump, Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.

In a press statement on Thursday night, Netanyahu declared, “This is a historic evening. Today marks the beginning of a new era in the State of Israel’s relations with the Arab world.”

“The United Arab Emirates is one of the most advanced and powerful countries in the world,” he added. “The Emirates will make a very significant investment in Israel in the development of a coronavirus vaccine. We will also cooperate in energy, water and environmental protection, and many other areas.”

“This is a very important thing for our economy, for the region’s economy and for our future,” Netanyahu emphasized.

The Israeli leader also made a clear, if unspoken, reference to the threat from Iran, which has brought Israel much closer to the Arab states in recent years, saying, “While for decades Israel has been portrayed as an enemy, as an island of instability in the Middle East, today many countries see Israel as a strategic ally for security, progress and also peace.”

“The citizens of the moderate countries in the Middle East are on one front for the sake of progress, on one front against the extremist forces that threaten us and the peace of the whole world,” he continued.

Netanyahu also pointed out that the agreement with the UAE created a new paradigm of “peace for peace” — an apparent reference to the old “land-for-peace” formula of decades past.

Peace for peace, he asserted, was the “only peace that is sustainable, and I am committed to it.”

“We seek peace,” Netanyahu said. “I am sure that on this historic day, when we are bringing a true peace with an important Arab country, we are all happy.”

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