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UAE and Israel announce they’re establishing ties; Israel suspending annexation

Netanyahu hails start of a new era, hails Trump for brokering deal; settlers fume; Kushner predicts other states will follow; Abbas recalls PA’s envoy from Abu Dhabi

(L-R, rear) US senior presidential advisor Jared Kushner, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien clap for US President Donald Trump after he announced an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize diplomatic ties, at the White House, August 13, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
(L-R, rear) US senior presidential advisor Jared Kushner, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien clap for US President Donald Trump after he announced an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize diplomatic ties, at the White House, August 13, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.

Gantz nurse has coronavirus, but minister does not need to quarantine

One of the nurses present in the room when Defense Minister Benny Gantz went under the knife at Sheba Tel Hashomer hospital on Wednesday has tested positive for the coronavirus, his ministry says.

“According to a check by the hospital, the minister was not next to the nurse and so does not need to quarantine,” the ministry says in a statement.

Gantz, who will need a week to recover from the successful herniated disc surgery, is continuing his duties as normal, according to the ministry.

Ministers to mull new coronavirus rules on gatherings — report

Israeli ministers are set to okay a new set of pandemic regulations that will change the rubric for how limitations on gatherings are calculated.

According to Ynet, the ministers in the so-called coronavirus cabinet will approve a scheme by which all closed spaces are judged by the same criteria, rather than having different rules for different types of businesses or spaces. Under the rules, only spaces that are 80 square meters (860 square feet) or larger will be allowed to host groups of 20 people or more, no matter if the space is a restaurant, gym or synagogue.

The ministers are also expected to okay rules regarding how the airport will operate and who will be allowed in, according to the report.

The rules would still need to be approved by the full cabinet, and reviewed by the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee.

Greece welcomes Israelis while dealing with own renewed outbreak

A Greek prosecutor has ordered an investigation into a string of infections at a retirement home in northern Greece, where 33 of the 150 residents and three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Authorities say 20 people from the home at Asvestochori, a village outside the northern city of Thessaloniki, were taken to a hospital Wednesday with mild symptoms. The disease is believed to have been spread by a staff member who caught it from a relative who had visited a popular holiday resort.

People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus wait to board a ferry in the port of Piraeus, near Athens, on August 7, 2020. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The investigation was ordered Thursday.

Greece has seen a major rise in COVID-19 infections, which reached 262 cases on Wednesday — the highest since the virus outbreak.

The country of 11 million has registered about 6,200 confirmed cases, and 216 deaths.

The news comes as Greece and Israel reach a deal to resume bilateral tourism, with Thessaloniki reportedly one of four destinations Israelis will be allowed to visit.

— with AP

Israeli scientist named to senior position at WHO

Sinaia Netanyahu, a former chief scientist at the Environmental Protection Ministry, has been named the head of the program for environmental and health impacts at the World Health Organization’s Europe office, a posting that the Foreign Ministry celebrates as a major achievement.

“For the last several years, the Foreign Ministry has been involved in efforts to incorporate Israelis into various positions at the UN and UN agencies. The choice of Dr. Netanyahu to the post is great news in this regard and an important milestone,” a ministry statement reads.

Netanyahu, who has worked for decades as an environmental and economic expert in various capacities, says she hopes she can help advance programs that “create an environment to support reducing health inequality in regards to environmental exposure.”

Netanyahu, who has also blogged for The Times of Israel, was married to computer scientist Nathan Netanyahu, a first cousin of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US says Iranians briefly seize tanker in Gulf of Hormuz

The Iranian navy boarded and briefly seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a US military official says.

The US military’s Central Command publishes a black-and-white video showing what appear to be special forces fast-roping down from a helicopter onto the MV Wila, whose last position appeared to be off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates near the city of Khorfakkan.

The Iranian navy held the vessel for some five hours before releasing it Wednesday, a US military official tells The Associated Press. The Wila made no distress calls before, during and after the seizure, the official says.

The Iranian helicopter involved appeared to be a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, which only Iran’s navy operates. The Iranian navy also handles all operations in the Gulf of Oman on the eastern side of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of all oil traded passes. Two other Iranian naval vessels took part in the seizure, Central Command said.

The US military officials do not offer any reason for Iran seizing the vessel. Iranian state media and officials did not acknowledge the seizure or offer a reason for it.

— AP

Iran reportedly ramping up enrichment at Natanz

Iran is ramping up uranium enrichment at the Natanz nuclear facility, the site of a mysterious blast that allegedly targeted advanced centrifuges at the site, according to Bloomberg News.

The reports cites a document from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which says centrifuges are being moved from a pilot facility to a new area at Natanz.

Piping has been installed to accommodate higher volumes of enriched material produced by three new cascades, made up of 164 centrifuges each, the report states.

The move appears to violate the 2015 nuclear agreement, and may show that the alleged sabotage at the plant last month, widely attributed to Israel or the US, did not set back Iran’s nuclear program far.

Global coronavirus death toll passes 750,000

The number of people who have died of the novel coronavirus has topped 750,000, according to several tallies.

The US has been the hardest hit by the virus, with over 166,000 deaths, followed by Brazil, which notched its 100,000th death over the weekend.

Israel has seen a total of 643 deaths, according to Health Ministry figures as of this morning.

There have been nearly 20.65 million cases worldwide.

Coronavirus lab workers threaten strike as talks break down

A labor union representing workers at state-funded labs says it may call a strike, potentially hampering the testing of thousands of suspected coronavirus samples a day.

The group, which is seeking better working conditions and says it has become overwhelmed by the influx of coronavirus tests, says that the Finance Ministry has refused to budge, bogging down the talks.

“The crisis with the Treasury can lead to the halting of coronavirus tests, and, no less dramatic, other lab tests, which will paralyze the entire health system,” says union representative Esther Admon, according to Walla.

Globes news reports that starting lab workers earn only NIS 31 ($9) an hour, a quarter of what workers at private labs can earn. The union says the low wages make it impossible to attract workers or keep existing employees.

Meeting FM, Netanyahu backs Greece in spat with Turkey

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias that he backs Athens in its dispute with Turkey.

“We view with severity any aggressive action in the eastern Mediterranean from any actor, including Turkey,” Netanyahu says at the start of a meeting between the two.

He notes that Israel and Greece, who are collaborating on a gas pipeline with Cyprus, have “shared geopolitical interests.”

Netanyahu says that the two will also discuss the resumption of bilateral travel.

Border Police vehicle stoned near site of Wednesday clash with settlers

Stones and paint bottles were thrown at an armored Border Police vehicle during a shift change, close to the settlement of Yitzhar, the Border Police force says in a statement.

There were no injuries reported. Settlers and Border Police clashed on Wednesday over the demolition of illegal structures in the Shevach Haaretz outpost outside Yitzhar, leaving one officer wounded.

— Aaron Boxerman

At least 8 children die in Syria camp for IS wives, kids

At least eight children under the age of 5 have died in recent days from health problems linked to the dire conditions in a camp in northern Syria housing tens of thousands of female supporters of the Islamic State group and their children, the UN says.

The UN children’s agency says the eight died between August 6-10 from malnutrition or dehydration from diarrhea. The camp has yet to report any outbreak of the new coronavirus, which has sickened people in other parts of war-torn Syria.

“Any child’s death is tragic. It is even more so when the death could have been averted,” UNICEF says in a statement.

It says nearly 40,000 children from 60 countries languish at the al-Hol camp. It is operated by US-allied Kurdish forces that played a key role in dismantling the extremist group’s self-styled caliphate, which once sprawled across large areas of Syria and Iraq.

The detainees at al-Hol mainly consist of the wives of IS fighters and their children, who were captured or surrendered to Kurdish forces. With few exceptions, Western countries have refused to repatriate them, citing security concerns.

The detainees “lack access to basic services and have to contend with the sweltering summer heat and the trauma of violence and displacement,” UNICEF says.

— AP

Netanyahu suddenly leaves cabinet meeting with cryptic adieu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has abruptly left a meeting of the so-called coronavirus cabinet, according to several Hebrew media reports.

On his way out the door, Netanyahu says cryptically “You will find out why afterward,” and alludes to a matter of national concern.

Ministers agree to maybe discuss stricter measures, Litzman berates PM

Ministers at the coronavirus cabinet meeting have decided to discuss a possible change of course, should infection rates not drop significantly over the next week, Channel 12 news reports.

Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu suggests that the possible moves include doing nothing different (really), closing malls, and reimposing a full lockdown, according to the report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking before he left the meeting, expressed skepticism in anything but a much stricter lockdown having much effect, according to reports.

Before the prime minister left, Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman of the UTJ party repeatedly raised his voice and loudly berated Netanyahu for not giving synagogues permission to pack more people inside, according to several reports.

Netanyahu has reportedly returned to the coronavirus meeting, according to Kan reporter Michael Shemesh.

Israel says it took out one-third of Syrian air defenses in two years

The Israeli Air Force has destroyed a third of Syria’s advanced air defense systems over the past two year, according to Israeli military assessments.

According to the military, the air force has attacked 955 sites in Syria over the last three years. Over that period, 844 missiles were fired at Israeli aircraft. Only one has ever managed to bring down a plane.

The army rarely reveals specific numbers about the scope of its Syria program. The last time Israel released information of this scope was in January 2019.

Peace agreement reached between Israel and UAE — Trump

Israel and the UAE have reached a peace agreement, US president Donald Trump tweets.

There are no further details at this moment.

Ministers said to okay quarantine-free travel from Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece

Ministers in the limited coronavirus cabinet have reportedly okayed allowing Israelis returning from Croatia, Bulgaria and Greece to skip the requirement to quarantine for two weeks, in a bid to boost bilateral tourism.

According to the reports, Israelis will also not have to quarantine when arriving in those countries, though there is no confirmation.

On July 27, Sofia said Israeli tourists could visit, so long as they present a negative virus test from the last three days.

Croatia allows people from any country to enter, but requires they either present a negative test or quarantine for two weeks.

Earlier in the day, Israel and Greece agreed that 600 Israelis weekly would be allowed to visit certain Greek areas, but no announcement was made regarding testing or quarantine requirements.

The plan would ostensibly include quarantine-free travel from the three countries to Israel.

Israel to suspend West Bank annexation for ties with UAE, joint statement says

Israel has agreed to suspend West Bank annexation plans in exchange for the normalization of ties with the UAE, according to a joint statement from Israel, the UAE and the US released by US President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to give an address at 7 p.m.

Netanyahu calls UAE agreement ‘historic’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweets out “Historic Day,” alongside Trump’s tweet announcing the agreement for Israel and the UAE to normalize ties.

The tweet includes an Israeli flag, but no UAE flag.

UAE crown prince says only agreed to work toward ties with Israel

UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayad confirms in a tweet that Israel has agreed to suspend annexation plans, but says that the countries have only agreed to work toward the normalization of relations.


Israel says annexation still going ahead, just suspended for a little while

Israel remains committed to annexing parts of the West Bank, a senior Israeli official says.

“The Trump administration asked to temporarily suspend the announcement [of applying sovereignty] in order to first implement the historic peace agreement with the UAE,” the official says.

— Raphael Ahren

Settler leader fumes over deal to halt annexation

The mayor of the Beit El settlement Shai Alon accuses Netanyahu of selling out his movement.

“They pulled a fast one on the settlers. Our future is in Judea and Samaria and in courageous decisions which our leaders will make. Not agreements that we sign today and are not worth the paper they are written on tomorrow.”

But Oded Revivi, mayor of the Efrat settlement says suspending the annexation bid is a “proper price,” for normalizing ties, while predicting a change in how settlements are perceived.

Trump: I expect other Arab and Muslim countries to follow UAE’s lead

US President Donald Trump, surrounded by Jared Kushner, ambassador to Israel David Friedman and others, tells reporters that the Israel, UAE deal is “a truly historic moment.”

He notes that he spoke to Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed by phone, calling them both friends.

“Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates,” he says.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that “This is a remarkable achievement for two of the world’s most forward leaning, technologically advanced states, and reflects their shared regional vision of an economically integrated region,” he said in a statement. “It also illustrates their commitment to confronting common threats, as small — but strong — nations.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov,” he adds.

— AP

Ashkenazi, possibly kept out of loop, hopes for more normalization

The establishment of formal relations with the United Arab Emirates opens the door “for additional agreements,” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi says in his first reaction to US President Donald Trump’s bombshell announcement.

In a series of tweets, he thanks Trump, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and PM Netanyahu for the historic achievement. He also welcome the fact that Netanyahu’s planned unilateral West Bank annexation was suspended.

The prime minister’s spokesperson indicates that Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz were not updated about the deal in advance, saying that the prime minister has now updated the two on the deal.

The Israeli Embassy in the US publishes the joint statement announcing the deal.

Palestinian official slams UAE for ‘rewarding’ Israel

A senior Palestinian official has slammed the US-brokered deal establishing formal ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates in exchange for Israel dropping its plans to annex West Bank land.

Hanan Ashrawi says on Twitter that the deal announced on Thursday perpetuates Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

“Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation,” she wrote. She also said the UAE has come forward with its “secret dealings/normalization with Israel.”

“Please don’t do us a favor. We are nobody’s fig leaf!” she writes.

— AP

UAE highlights annexation freeze in feting deal

Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s foreign minister, says Israel must freeze annexation for peace.

“A historic call by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan this evening with the US President and the Israeli Prime Minister. Israel freezing the decision to annex the Palestinian territories is a great achievement for the future of the region, its people, and the world.”

“With courageous initiative, the UAE is employing its decision for normal relations with Israel to preserve the chances of a two-state solution, and calls for the resumption of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, and is committed to working with friends to establish security and ensure the stability of the region.The region has witnessed many political moments and initiatives, from Camp David to Madrid to Oslo, Wye River, Annapolis, and others. Today we are aiming that Israel freezing the annexation of Palestinian lands will become a new opportunity to revive peace,” he adds.

Mohammad Issa Abu Shehab, UAE ambassador to the EU tells Emirates TV that “this is an extremely important statement, most importantly for its end result – stopping or freezing all Israeli plans for Palestinian land. This is a victory for Emirati diplomacy, which over the past few months has stopped the annexation of Palestinian land. This was based on Arab and international communication with the Emirates.”

“This agreement will increase the degree of security and stability in the region,” he says.

Likud MK: We are still going to annex West Bank land

Likud MK Shlomo Karhi tells Channel 12 news that Israel did not agree to any retreat from its position on annexation.

“We didn’t give up on anything. Sovereignty is still on the table, and it will happen, and we are just waiting for the US,” he says.

“This is a peace deal born of strength, not of retreat,” he adds.

Gantz, Lapid praise deal with UAE

Defense Minister Benny Gantz praises the decision to normalize ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and calls for other Middle Eastern countries to follow suit.

“I praise this important and significant agreement and I would like to first and foremost thank US President Donald Trump, a true friend of Israel, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Muhammad Bin Zaid,” Gantz says.

“This agreement demonstrates the alliance between countries in the region who are interested in prosperity and regional stability, and it stresses Israel’s eternal ambition for peace with its neighbors. I am sure that this agreement will have many positive consequences on the future of the entire Middle East and on Israel’s status in the world and the region,” he says.

“I call on other Arab countries to advance ties with Israel with additional peace treaties.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid says it is “an important step towards normalization of relations with the United Arab Emirates. This step is proof that negotiations and agreements, not unilateral steps like annexation which would harm Israel’s security, are the way forward for our diplomatic relations. I thank President Trump for his support for this agreement.”

— Raphael Ahren

Hamas, Islamic Jihad rage at Emiratis over deal

The Hamas terror group, which controls the Gaza Strip, calls the deal by Abu Dhabi “a stabbing in the back of our people.”

The Islamic Jihad terrorist movement is also not pleased: “He who has never supported Palestine with a bullet ought to be ashamed of himself as he is submitting to the basest of creatures. We are deeply saddened by the agreement between the UAE and ‘Israel’ and affirm that normalization is submission and will not change the facts of the conflict.”

— Agencies and Aaron Boxerman

UAE says no way to embassy in Jerusalem

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash tells Sky News Arabia that “We have no intention of there being an embassy in Jerusalem.”

It is not clear if he means specifically the city of Jerusalem, or anywhere in Israel.

PM’s aide: There’s a lot of fake news, wait for Netanyahu to speak

Amid confusion over certain aspects of the deal, and especially Israel’s annexation plans, Benjamin Netanyahu aide Aaron Klein tells reporters to pipe down and wait for the premier to speak.

“There is a lot of fake news in the Israeli media right now on the issue of today’s historic full peace with the UAE,” says Klein, a former Breitbart reporter.

He says the prime minister will address all questions at tonight’s press conference.

Netanyahu is scheduled to speak at 8 p.m.

— with Raphael Ahren

White House signing ceremony being planned for Israel & UAE agreement — report

A White House official tells Israel’s Walla News that a signing ceremony in Washington is being planned with the participation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE leader Mohammed Bin Zayed.

The ceremony would take place in the coming weeks, and would represent Netanyahu’s first trip out of the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

There is no immediate confirmation from Israeli officials.

Hamas condemns UAE for dealing with Israel

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum says “The US-Israeli-Emirati agreement is dangerous and represents a ‘free reward’ for the Israeli occupation for its crimes and violations of the Palestinian people’s human rights.”

In this photo released by the state-run WAM news agency on May 19, 2020, an Etihad Airways flight with aid for the Palestinians to fight the coronavirus pandemic is loaded with its cargo in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, before departing to Israel. (WAM via AP)

“We condemn every form of normalization with the occupation, which we consider a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause. The Israeli enemy benefits from it. [Normalization] will encourage it to commit more crimes and violations of our people’s rights and their holy places,” he says.

He says the UAE and others should not “normalize with the occupation, beautify its face and integrate it in the region.”

There has been no official response from Palestinian Authority leadership.

— Aaron Boxerman

Bennett, settlers bewail loss of annexation

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett praises the Israel UAE deal but bemoans the fact that annexation has been frozen.

“It’s unfortunate that Netanyahu has squandered the chance to extend sovereignty [to] the Jordan Valley, Malleh Adumim, Beit El and the rest of the settlements.”

He calls the fact that Netanyahu did not push ahead with annexation a “tragedy.”

The Sovereignty Movement of settler activists also slams Netanyahu for choosing peace with the UAE over annexation of West Bank lands.

“The Prime Minister has turned to the Left – perhaps due to his legal troubles. Under his leadership the Land of Israel has become a currency for trade,” it says.

It calls for him to be pushed out of office and replaced with someone who strongly supports settlements.

Abu Dhabi deal may help Likud and Blue and White overcome own differences

Israel’s Kan news reports that sources in the government are saying that the diplomatic breakthrough with the UAE may help stabilize the ruling coalition, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly keeping his Blue and White partners in the dark about the developments.

In a statement, Blue and White says it had “good” talks with Likud on reaching agreements to keep the coalition from collapsing. “There has been progress and [representatives] have agreed to meet in the coming days.”

UAE’s Gargash says move will help Palestinian statehood bid

Annexation was a deeply worrying step for all the world’s states, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash says to Sky News Arabia. He denies that plans to set a road map for cooperation and normalization between Israel and the UAE will hamper the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Freezing Israeli annexation will be a revival of the peace process,” Gargash says, adding “we have always said that the political solution is in the hands of Palestinians and Israelis, and there must be a return to the negotiating table.”

Asked about the idea for the agreement, Gargash says it came about in the aftermath of Israel’s announced intention to annex parts of the West Bank.

“An idea began to develop for a kind of political agreement. It continued to develop following American insistence and follow-up. The idea was that Israel would abide by freezing annexation, and we would agree to develop normal relations,” Gargash says.

Asked how the Palestinians will benefit from UAE-Israel normalization, Gargash says they could learn by example.

“Our advice to the Palestinians has always be to remain in contact and keep communication channels open. Right now, the Palestinian people are seeing very difficult days — proving that communication is better than disconnection,” Gargash says.

— Aaron Boxerman

Coronavirus death toll tops 650

While everybody was busy reacting to the news of the UAE-Israel deal, the Health Ministry announced eight new fatalities from the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 651.

It also announces several hundred more cases, bringing the total number of infections to 89,555.

There are 371 patients in serious condition, including 110 on ventilators.

Netanyahu says Israel and UAE will have full diplomatic, economic ties

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says UAE, Israel and the US agreed on a full, official peace in a phone call today.

He says there will be an exchange of embassies, ambassadors, economic exchanges, direct flights and more.

“This is very important for our economy, the regional economy and our future.”

Netanyahu: There will be more Arab countries to forge ties with us

Netanyahu says that Israel and the UAE are very similar in many ways, including technologyical innovation.

He repeats that the deal is historic and a landmark, comparing it to the peace deals with Egypt and Jordan.

He says he has been working toward the goal of normalization with the Gulf saince 2009.

“I always thought it was possible. … I have been doing this constantly, for years,” he says, noting his contacts with Sudan and other states that don’t have official ties with Israel.

“This deal shows the huge change in how Israel is seen in the Middle East.”

He says more Arab countries will establish ties with Israel.

Netanyahu says no change to annexation plans

Netanyahu stresses that the peace is not in exchange for anything, and ends his speech by thanking Trump and UAE leader Mohammed Bin Zayed, including in Arabic.

Asked about his annexation promises, his says there is”no change in my plans for annexation, with full coordination with the US,” but does not elaborate.

He says that nobody ever believes his promises but he proves them wrong, as he did here, by forging peace with an Arab country without making peace with the Palestinians first.

PM: I’ll never give up on our rights, sovereignty

Netanyahu insists that he’s committed to sovereignty, and will “never give up on our rights in our land.”

He claims that Trump only requested a temporary suspension of annexation plans.

He confirms that there are plans for Israeli and UAE delegations to meet.

PM says he is committed to Trump plan, avoids answering on 2 state solution

Asked if he supports a two state solution, Prime Minister Netanyahu says he is committed to the Trump peace plan, calling it the most realistic plan since 1967. He refuses to define what a Palestinian entity would be.

He repeats that Trump only insisted on a temporary pause in annexation plans.

He also coughs without covering his mouth.

And he confirms that there has been progress in talks with Blue and White.

Netanyahu coy on dates, says Arabs impressed by his ‘strength’

Asked if there is a date for annexation, he refuses to say, insisting that it will happen in any case.

He accuses a Yedioth Ahronoth reporter of “fake news,” after asking if he agrees with his wife saying she is battered by protests and about all his broken promises and political trickery.

Asked if he thinks he could have gotten a far-right government to agree to the deal given the retreat on annexation, he denied he has agreed to back off anything and brags that he is the one who managed to bring about this peace deal “without qualifications.”

He says Arab leaders are impressed with him and his strength.

“They see the policies I changed, they see the strength I bring to the stage, how I don’t hesitate against Iran… they are very impressed with it.”

He ends by giving the same speech in English.

Katz congratulates self, Regev says deal can’t come at expense of annexation

Finance Minister Israel Katz, who briefly served as acting foreign minister and also visited Abu Dhabi several years ago as Transportation Minister, congratulates himself for Israel and the UAE agreeing to normalize ties.

In this photo released on July 1, 2019, then-Foreign Minister Israel Katz visits the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy Katz’s office)

“As foreign minister, I placed the goal of peace and normalization via strength with the Gulf states at the top of my agenda and got the prime minister’s blessing to advance the issue,” he says in a statement.

“I feel like I’ve made a historic and important contribution to Israel’s security and the bolstering of our regional standing.”

Minister Miri Regev, center, visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi with UAE officials on October 29, 2018. (Courtesy Chen Kedem Maktoubi)

Current Transportation Minister Miri Regev, who has also visited Abu Dhabi in an official capacity, is less excited about the deal.

“This is a historic agreement on every level, security, economic, business — but it can’t come at the expense of sovereignty that the prime minister and all of us have committed to,” she says.

Abbas calls urgent summit over UAE news

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called an emergency meeting in response to the agreement to work on further cooperation and normalization between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

— Aaron Boxerman

Trump, Netanyahu talk; Kushner says deal will stop extremists by opening flights

US President Donald Trump has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on the “historic accomplishment” that is the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Netanyahu’s office says.

Speaking at a White House press briefing, Trump’s son in law and adviser Jared Kushner congratulates Israel and the UAE for reaching the deal.

He says that the deal has been in the works for a year and a half, but was delayed by Israeli elections and other matters.

He says that Trump got Israel to agree to a two-state solution.

He says the talks between Israel and the UAE accelerated over the last six weeks, crediting an op-ed by envoy to the US Yousef al-Otaiba with helping change the conversation.

He says the deal with allow flights from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv, meaning that Muslims can visit the al-Aqsa Mosque, which will combat extremism by showing that the mosque is open.

Despite normalizing before 2-state deal, UAE says it backs Arab Peace Initiative

In response to Netanyahu’s promise to continue pursuing annexing parts of the West Bank, a senior UAE official tells The Times of Israel that Abu Dhabi remains committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and the terms of the Arab Peace Initiative.

“The UAE, US and Israel have agreed on suspending Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories in order to establish bilateral relations towards a stable and peaceful region via dialogue and diplomacy,” Hend al-Otaiba, the director of strategic communications of the Emirati Foreign Ministry says.

“The UAE is committed to the Arab peace initiative and the rights of the Palestinian people for an independent state in peaceful coexistence with the state of Israel.”

The Arab Peace Initiative, first proposed in the early 1990s by Saudi Arabia, calls for full diplomatic ties between Israel and the entire Arab world after a peace agreement with the Palestinians based on the 1967 lines is signed.

— Raphael Ahren

Kushner: We put other Israel talks on hold so UAE could be first

Jared Kushner indicates that there were US-brokered talks between Israel and other Arab states, that were put on hold in favor of the UAE deal.

“It was important to them to be first,” he says.

He says those other discussions will now resume, and describes the Middle East forging ties with Israel as an “inevitability.”

“At the end of the day, everybody wants to move forward.”

Biden praises deal, slams annexation

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden praises the Israel-UAE deal, specifically noting that the UAE’s decision to recognize Israel was a “welcome, brave and badly-needed act of statesmanship.”

He also reiterates his opposition to annexation , saying it would be a “body blow,” to peace.

Tel Aviv lights up with colors of UAE

The Tel Aviv City Hall has lit up with the colors of the UAE flag to celebrate the deal to normalize ties, flashing between that and the Israeli flag.

This marks the second time this month that the building has lit up in the colors of an Arab state, after displaying the Lebanese flag to show solidarity with the victims of the Beirut port explosion on August 5.

Trump adviser says president should get Nobel for Israel-UAE deal

US National Security Adviser Robert Obrien says he would “not be surprised” if Donald Trump is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for getting the UAE to normalize ties with Israel.

“Today’s work is an example of why he would be rightly considered and should be a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Trump has openly mused about being worthy of the prize, saying he would get one if they “gave it out fairly.”

UAE Jewish community thrilled with Israel ties

The Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates has welcomed the agreement struck between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem.

“Among other things, this will allow Israelis to visit the UAE and share our daily experience of welcome, tolerance and pluralism that typifies the UAE,” the Jewish Council of the Emirates says in a statement.

“I am so moved by the many messages of hope that I have received from Emirati friends of our community on hearing this news,” says Ross Kriel, the group’s president.

“The announcement reflects the extent to which the UAE has demonstrated sustained courage and pragmatism in seeking opportunities for peace and economic development in the region. Our community members look forward to direct flights to Israel and welcoming Israeli friends and visitors to the UAE.”

Rabbi Sarna, the New York-based non-resident chief rabbi of the group, praises the UAE’s de-facto leader Mohammed Bin Zayed for his “vision of tolerance, synergy and the fusion of past and future.”

— Raphael Ahren

Palestinians say deal caught them off guard

Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi weren’t the only ones caught off guard by the US’s announcement of a deal between Israel and the UAE. Two Palestinian officials tell UAE-based The National that they did not know about the agreement, and leadership found out just minutes before the announcement.

“We didn’t know,” one says. “I’m shocked.”

“I spoke to several people in high positions who should have known. They didn’t know,” the official says.

“I didn’t know. I just read about it in the press,” the second official says.

Bahrain praises deal between Israel and UAE

Bahrain has welcomed the landmark UAE-Israel deal to normalize relations, saying that it boosted prospects for peace in the Middle East.

“This historic step will contribute to strengthening stability and peace in the region,” the government says in a statement on the national news agency.


Regional cooperation minister says joint projects with UAE coming ‘as soon as possible’

Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis says that his office will work to advance joint projects with the United Arab Emirates and is planning on presenting the government with a series of proposals for cooperation.

“This is an important and historic evening that expands the circle of peace between Israel and the Arab states. I congratulate the Prime Minister on the realization of his many years of efforts,” Akunis says in a statement on the announcement of diplomatic ties with the UAE.

He says the agreement is “a tremendous opportunity for a very long line of economic, tourism and regional infrastructure projects on an unprecedented scale.”

“The Regional Cooperation Office, headed by me, will begin rapid staff work to promote them, and I intend to present them to the Prime Minister and the Government plenum as soon as possible.”

Egypt’s el-Sissi praises ‘historic peace step’

The Egyptian president welcomes the deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to establish full diplomatic ties.

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says in a tweet that he praises the parties’ efforts to “achieve prosperity and stabilization in our region.”

He says he also spoke by phone with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan after the announcement of the UAE-Israeli relations on Thursday.

El-Sissi’s office says the Egyptian leader, whose county, along with Jordan, has active diplomatic ties with Israel, calls the UAE-Israel deal “a historic peace step” that would push Mideast peace efforts forward, and help stabilize the region.

El-Sissi also hails the halt of the Israeli annexation plans for occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

— AP

Abbas and Haniyeh discuss UAE-Israel agreement

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh spoke over the phone Thursday night to discuss the UAE-Israel agreement to take steps towards normalizing relations.

Both expressed their condemnation of the agreement, in separate statements.

The Palestinian Authority has also recalled its ambassador to the UAE in protest over the agreement, PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki says in a statement.

Jordan says ending ‘violation of Palestinian rights’ must follow UAE-Israel deal

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi says that Israel must choose between the occupation and a comprehensive regional peace, in Jordan’s first statement since today’s announcement of an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize relations.

“The decision to freeze the annexation of Palestinian lands included in the agreement between the sisterly United Arab Emirates and Israel must be followed by Israel stopping all illegal measures which undermine peace opportunities and its violations of Palestinian rights. Israel must immediately enter into direct, serious and effective negotiations to achieve peace based on the two-state solution and in accordance with international law,” Safadi says.

“A just peace will not be possible unless the peoples accept it,” Safadi concludes.

Jordan has been at peace with Israel since the 1994 Wadi Araba treaty, which led the two to normalize bilateral relations.

— Aaron Boxerman

US envoy: UAE-Israel deal ‘huge win’ for Trump

The US ambassador to the United Nations says she is celebrating the announcement of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, calling it “a huge win” for President Donald Trump and for the world.

Kelly Craft says the diplomatic ties show “just how hungry for peace we all are in this world,” and how Mideast countries are all understanding the need “to stand firm against a regime that is the number one state sponsor of terrorism” — Iran.

Craft says she believes that more of the Middle East will be “joining together,” and pointing to a letter Sunday from the UAE and five other nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council endorsing an extension of the US arms embargo on Iran which is set to expire on Oct. 18. The GCC countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“Today’s announcement is just a statement that the Middle East, that the countries are coming together, because they recognize, they understand the importance of restraining this murderous regime,” Craft says. “I’m celebrating the president’s vision, his strategy. He’s been talking about this, he’s been working behind the scenes on this particular issue, and today it was announced and we’re all celebrating.”

— AP

Iranian official: ‘UAE will be engulfed in Zionism fire,’ its deal ‘serves Zionists’ crimes’

A special adviser on international affairs to the speaker of Iran’s parliament tweets the first response of an Iranian official to the normalization deal announced between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

“UAE’s new approach for normalizing ties w/fake, criminal #Israel doesn’t maintain peace & security, but serves ongoing Zionists’ crimes,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, also former deputy foreign minister, says.

“Abu Dhabi’s behavior has no justification, turning back on the Palestine cause. W/ that strategic mistake, #UAE will be engulfed in Zionism fire,” he adds.

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