At UN General Assembly, UAE reiterates ‘firm demand’ for Palestinian state

FM Abdullah bin Zayed expresses hope peace accord with Israel will provide ‘opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis to reengage in negotiations to achieve peace’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan addressing the UN General Assembly, September 29, 2020 (screen grab)
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan addressing the UN General Assembly, September 29, 2020 (screen grab)

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday reiterated his country’s “firm demand” for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 border lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan took credit for halting Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank by agreeing to normalize relations with the Jewish state. He expressed the hope that the “historic peace accord” with Jerusalem would lead to the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“The call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with the relevant international resolutions and the Arab and international consensus will remain a firm demand,” Al Nahyan said in a pre-recorded statement screened to UN delegates.

“My country has made persistent efforts using all available diplomatic channels to affirm our total rejection of the annexation of Palestinian territory, and we have warned of its impact on all parties and on the security of the region.”

On August 13, Israel and the UAE announced the they were normalizing bilateral ties in exchange for Israel agreeing to suspend for an undetermined period of time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the strategic Jordan Valley and all settlements across the West Bank. About a month later, on September 15, Netanyahu and Al Nahyan signed the so-called Abraham Accords at the White House, in which both countries declared the establishment of full diplomatic ties.

On the same day, Bahrain signed a “Declaration of Peace” to be translated into a peace agreement in the near future.

“With the signing of a historic peace accord with Israel, supported by American efforts, my country was able to freeze the annexation decision and opened broad prospects to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region,” the Emirati foreign minister said Tuesday during his UN address.

“We hope this peace accord will provide the opportunity for the Palestinians and the Israelis to reengage in negotiations to achieve peace. Our position towards supporting the Palestinian people and achieving the two-state solution is firm.”

He pledged to ensure that the peace deal “will open new intellectual horizons in the region and create a prosperous path for future generations who deserve a stable region and a better reality than wars and poverty.”

L-R: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony at the White House after they participated in the signing of the Abraham Accords, September 15, 2020. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

In wake of the deal, Ramallah leadership assailed Abu Dhabi’s “betrayal” of the Palestinian people, with officials accusing the UAE of turning their backs on Arab solidarity “in the guise of supporting the Palestinian cause.”

Al Nahyan also announced the UAE’s candidature for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the period 2022-2023. “My country will continue its call for involving regional organizations in finding permanent solutions for crises, and we count on your support to achieve these goals.”

While he didn’t mention Iran and Turkey, most of his 15-minute speech was dedicated to Tehran and Ankara’s “expansionist ambitions”

“The tensions in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and other states are all related to blatant interference in Arab affairs made by states that incite strife and discord, or that have historical delusions of restoring their domination and colonial rule over the Arab region and the Horn of Africa. The result has been brutal wars,” he said.

On Thursday, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, in his speech to the UN, called for “intensified efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with the two-state solution,” King Hamad went on in his UN address.

Netanyahu’s pre-recorded speech to the General Assembly is set to be broadcast later on Tuesday.

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