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Palestinians to boycott Dubai Expo world fair over ties with Israel

PA Prime Minister Shtayyeh says measure a protest against UAE’s decision to normalize relations with ‘occupying power’

Fireworks explode at the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building during an event to celebrate the Dubai Expo 2020 One Year to Go, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 20, 2019. (Kamran Jebreili/AP)
Fireworks explode at the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building during an event to celebrate the Dubai Expo 2020 One Year to Go, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 20, 2019. (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

The Palestinians will boycott next year’s world fair in Dubai over the United Arab Emirates’ opening of diplomatic relations with Israel, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced Monday.

“In protest of the #UAE’s decision to normalize relations with Israel, the occupying power, the Cabinet decided to cancel #Palestine’s participation in #DubaiExpo2020, planned to open in October 2021,” Shtayyeh wrote on his official Twitter account.

The fractured Palestinian leadership — from the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank to Hamas in the Gaza Strip — is united in its opposition to the UAE-Israel deal announced Thursday by US President Donald Trump.

PA President Abbas called an emergency meeting in response to the agreement, and the PA recalled its ambassador to the UAE in protest over the deal.

Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad also denounced the agreement, which was mediated by the United States.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 9, 2020. (Abbas Momani/Pool Photo via AP)

Arab countries have for decades conditioned normalization with Israel on a peace deal with the Palestinians, and last week’s announcement appeared to mark a shift in that approach. More Arab countries are reported to be considering formalizing ties.

The UAE presented its decision to upgrade longstanding ties to Israel as a way of encouraging peace efforts by taking Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank off the table, something Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly rebuffed by insisting the pause was “temporary.”

The Dubai Expo 2020 trade fair will gather nearly 200 countries vying for the attention of a projected 25 million visitors over nearly six months.

The world fair, a milestone for Dubai, which has splashed out $8.2 billion on the eye-popping venue in the hope of boosting its soft power and resetting the economy, will now open its doors in October 2021. The original opening scheduled for October 2020 was put off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Concept art showcasing the Israeli pavilion at the upcoming Expo 2020 in Dubai. (Screenshot)

Israel had already accepted an invitation to participate in the expo. An Israeli pavilion at an Arab-hosted expo presents a unique opportunity to speed up the “normalization” of relations and reach out to Arab peoples, officials say.

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