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August 17, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8895

UAE Press: Normalization Agreement With Israel Brings Hope To The Region After A Century Of Conflicts And Disasters, Promotes Palestinian Cause

August 17, 2020
United Arab Emirates | Special Dispatch No. 8895

Since the UAE announced it was normalizing relations with Israel in preparation for signing a peace agreement with it, many articles have appeared in its press defending the agreement and stressing its advantages. The articles stated that, after long years of war and conflicts, the agreement can bring hope, peace, prosperity, stability and development to the region, and that the advantages of peace are certainly preferable to the harm caused by the conflict.  The UAE and its press also stressed that the agreement is compatible with Islam, which underscores the value of peace.

In addition, UAE leaders emphasized that the agreement with Israel serves the Palestinians because it has halted Israel's plans to annex Palestinian lands and will increase regional stability.[1] This argument also appeared in many of the press articles, which noted that the UAE is not the first Arab country to sign agreements with Israel and that many of those who are now criticizing the agreement – such the Palestinians, Qatar and Turkey – signed such agreements long before the UAE did. The articles emphasized that the agreement does not harm the Palestinians, but actually benefits them and promotes the realization of their rights, for it provides a new framework for pressuring Israel to change its positions and policy on the Palestinian issue.

The following are translated excerpts from some of the press articles in UAE dailies about the peace agreement with Israel.

It's Time For The Region To Enjoy Peace; The Benefits Of Peace Are Incomparably Better Than The Cost Of The Conflict

Hamad Al-Ka'bi, editor of the UAE government daily Al-Ittihad, stressed in an article that peace, rather than war, is the most effective way for countries to realize their interests. He wrote:

"After the conflicts and tensions of the last decades caused severe damage and made us miss many opportunities to find ways to give people hope and a life of prosperity, due to the fixed and rigid positions of [various] countries, it's time for this region to enjoy peace, stability and development. Everyone in this region bears responsibility for [the plight of] many generations whose strength was depleted by prolonged conflicts that affected all areas of life. Throughout its long history, the UAE has adhered to [the principle of] peace, and it supported, supports and will continue to support the legitimate rights of the Arabs in the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as the rights of the Palestinians…

"In 1979 our big sister Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel and regained Arab and Egyptian rights. Our Palestinian and Jordanian brothers ratified two agreements with Israel, in 1993 and 1994 [respectively], and Arab and Muslim states have established full or partial relations with [Israel]. Egypt [thus] regained Sinai, the Palestinians gained [an official] presence in their land, as a precursor to an independent state, and the Jordanians regained their legitimate rights in terms of territories and water thanks to the peace [agreement]. Despite this, the peace process continued to experience ups and downs, and was often suspended, for reasons known to all.

"The UAE believes that the advantages of peace are incomparably [preferable] to the harm caused by the conflict, and that relations between states must not [remain stuck], circling in place, while the times, circumstances and interests change…

"The UAE contends that peace must be grounded in wisdom, moderation and reason, and that it is peace that guarantees people's rights and realizes their interests. [Otherwise] we have no choice but to remain [locked] in the circle of conflict, war and poverty, which are fertile ground for extremism and terror..."[2]

Similar arguments were made in an editorial of the Al-Bayan daily, which stated: "The agreement brings a burst of hope to the region, which has experienced a century of disaster, wars and upheaval, chief of which was the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. [This conflict] affected most of the peoples [of the region], who have suffered unbearable problems of poverty, immigration, a dearth of opportunity, [deficient] education and healthcare and lack of security… The pooling of efforts that the UAE aspires to achieve will lay the foundation for investment in the peoples of the region, its resources and its strategic status, given its central location and its historical status as the cradle of the monotheistic faiths. [3] 

Al-Bayan editor Mona Bu Samara wrote: "After the surprise wears off, the advantages of this agreement will become clearer,  especially since it leads to economic and scientific cooperation between the two largest and most advanced economies in the region. This will have a positive effect on the region and bring about regional prosperity and wellbeing, as well as a new history shaped by strong [leaders] like [UAE Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Zayed…"[4]

The Agreement With Israel Benefits The Palestinians And Promotes The Realization Of Their Rights

As stated, many articles stressed that the UAE did not betray the Palestinian cause by signing the agreement, but rather helped their cause, since the agreement halted Israel's annexation plans and thereby saved the two-state solution. For example, an Al-Ittihad editorial stated: "The agreement of the UAE and Israel to establish full bilateral ties under U.S. sponsorship is the first glimmer of light to appear on the horizon of the Middle East peace [process] in the last six years, and its direct outcome will be the halting of the Hebrew states' plans to annex Palestinian lands in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area.

"This is a historic achievement for the Palestinian cause, which remains the foremost cause of the Arabs. This is evident from the fact that the agreement's first objective is to preserve the Palestinians' rights while saving the two-state solution and pushing for its implementation so as to guarantee permanent stability in the region… This agreement lays the foundation for the first road-map that will protect the Palestinians' rights through relations between Arab states and Israel, until the attainment of a just, comprehensive and permanent solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict…

The agreement with Israel is an opportunity for the Palestinians to reunite their [various] factions. Returning to the negotiation table may be difficult, but it is possible."[5]

Al-Bayan editor Mona Bu Samara made similar points in her article: "The agreement [with Israel] does not in any way mean that the UAE is giving up on Palestine, which is close to the heart and soul of every Emirati. [On the contrary], the agreement brings us closer to Palestine, increases our commitment to it and our support of its cause, and promotes the fulfilment of the [Palestinian] people's aspirations…

"The agreement does not change the UAE's position. On the contrary, it creates a new framework for pressuring Israel to change its positions and policy, and confronts it with the fact that expanding its relations with the Arabs and Muslims brings it greater benefit than [continuing] the occupation. In fact, the agreement has [already] forced Israel to make this choice, and it chose normalization with the UAE… while giving up the annexation [plan], as the Palestinians, the Arabs and the entire world wanted it to do… The agreement, and the relations between the UAE and Israel, will create a permanent opening for supporting [the Palestinians] in negotiations [with Israel] and for the realizations of their aspirations and rights. This is true especially because the UAE has strategic relations with the U.S. and with the [other] influential powers, which will provide [the Palestinians] with active leverage in negotiations…"[6]

The Shari'a Permits Making Peace For The Common Good; Islam Stresses The Value Of Peace

The UAE also stressed that normalizing relations and seeking peace agreements are compatible with the Islamic shari'a. Its Fatwa Council issued a statement that praised Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed for seeking "just and viable peace in the Middle East," and added: "The shari'a criterion that informed the Crown Prince's conduct is that of maslaha  [the collective good of the Muslims]. He alone [is authorized] to assess the collective good and implement goals related to war, peace and international relations. The Council therefore welcomes the moves taken by [our] rightly-guided leadership for the benefit of the homeland and the nation." [7]

The council's chairman, Sheikh 'Abdallah bin Bayyah, stressed that "this initiative [to normalize relations with Israel] is part of the Crown Prince's exclusive sovereign [sphere of] authority, from a shari'a and legal point of view," and added that "the shari'a presents many examples and [sets out] systematic fundamental principles for [handling] such issues of reconciliation and peace based on circumstances and the collective good." [8]

Dr. 'Omar Habtoor Al-Dar'i wrote in a similar vein in Al-Ittihad; "Islam stressed and reiterated the principle of peace. Allah said, 'And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also]' [Quran 8:61]… and 'if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them' [Quran 4:90]. Peace creates a basis for ongoing growth… not only for co-existence. Based on the solid principles of the faith which stress peace, I see my honorable leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Aal Nahyan… sponsor a rare peace initiative… and what guides him in making this move is his belief in the values of his faith…"[9]


Cartoon in UAE daily: The dove of peace shifts Israel from "the settlements" to "the two-state solution" (Al-Arab, London, August 15, 2020)

UAE Responds To Criticism Of The Agreement: The States Criticizing Us Established Ties With Israel Long Before Us

Responding to criticism voiced against the agreement, especially by Palestinians and by Qatar and Turkey, many articles in UAE dailies accused these critics of hypocrisy since they themselves established ties with Israel before the UAE did. Sami Al-Riyami, editor of the daily Al-Imarat Al-Yawm, wrote:

"The UAE is not the first Arab state to make a peace agreement with Israel and it will certainly not be the last. Many [of these states] have drawn close [to Israel], cooperated with it, maintained mutual relations with it and opened their doors wide to it, without this bringing any tangible benefit to the Palestinians. When the UAE considered this move, it did not do so unexpectedly, but only after several Arab, Islamic and other countries asked it to intervene and resolve the tangled problem created by Israel's decision to annex parts of the [West] Bank and Jordan Valley. This is a problem that nobody had been able to resolve… until the UAE intervened… and [Israel's] plans to annex Arab lands were halted.

"So what is bothering [all] those short-sighted people…?! It is very strange that the UAE is being criticized by the governments and media of countries that established ties with Israel decades before it did [i.e., Qatar and Turkey]… The problem, then, does not lie in the agreement with Israel but in their hearts that are  full of resentment and hatred for every move taken by the UAE. This is nothing new. However, nothing will halt the progress and development of the UAE or its strategy and policy which first of all preserve the interests of the UAE [itself] and its people. The UAE is a sovereign state and its leaders know exactly what they want and how to achieve it when they want to achieve it!

"Since its founding the UAE has placed the Palestinian interest at the top of its agenda. The [Palestinian] regime may now ignore all the support and assistance extended by the UAE, but the truth is clear and obvious, and we do not need to prove it. The UAE's political stance on the Palestinian issue will not change one whit, nor will it weaken or fade, for [the UAE] believes in the justness of the [Palestinian] cause and in the Palestinian people's right to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. [These] political stances have nothing to do with cooperation and mutual relations [with Israel]. The UAE is not the only one who behaves this way. In fact, the Palestinians and Arabs [themselves] do the same, and there is nothing wrong with it."[10]

 


[1] UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and other leaders stressed in their tweets that the joint UAE-Israeli announcement had stopped Israel's plan to annex Palestinian territories, and that a road map for establishing bilateral ties had been agreed upon. See twitter.com/MohamedBinZayed, August 13, 2020. UAE Foreign Minister 'Abdallah bin Zayed and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Al-Gargash expressed hope that the initiative would yield regional stability and revive the peace process. See twitter.com/ABZayed, twitter.com/AnwarGargash, August 13, 2020.

[2] Al-Ittihad (UAE), August 14, 2020.

[3] Al-Bayan (UAE), August 14, 2020.

[4] Al-Bayan (UAE), August 14, 2020.

[5] Al-Ittihad (UAE), August 14, 2020.

[6] Al-Bayan (UAE), August 14, 2020.

[7] Al-Bayan (UAE), August 15, 2020.

[8] Al-Bayan (UAE), August 15, 2020.

[9] Al-Ittihad (UAE), August 15, 2020.

[10] Al-Imarat Al-Yawm (UAE), August 16, 2020.

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