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Charter against Bahrain-UAE-Israel normalisation deal signed by one million

Emirati and Arab NGOs launch an online campaign in solidarity with Palestinians
The launch of the charter by the UAE Anti-Normlisation Association comes the same week as both the UAE and Bahrain officially signed normalisation agreements with Israel (AFP)

Over one million people have signed an online charter against normalisation with Israel, according to an Emirati civil society group.

The launch of the Palestine Charter comes the same week as both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain officially signed normalisation agreements - named the Abraham Accords - with Israel at a White House ceremony.

The charter's creator, an Emirati grassroots organisation called the UAE Anti-Normalisation Association, has launched a Twitter hashtag titled “people against normalisation”, urging followers to add their signatures. The charter states that:

• Palestine is an independent Arab state whose borders are from the river to the sea, and will remain Arab no matter how long the Zionist occupation lasts.

• No one has the mandate to cede an inch of Palestinian territory, no matter how strong it is in position and in its right.

• Anyone who decides to cede the land of Palestine and the right of its people to build an independent state with the city of Jerusalem as its capital does not represent the Arab people.

• Normalisation is rejected in all its forms and the free people will not accept it or any agreement with the occupying Zionist entity.

A number of associations across the region have lent their support to the initiative, including the Palestine Advocacy Association, the Bahrain Society for Resistance to Normalisation, Moroccan Observatory against Normalisation and the Palestinian Forum in Jordan.

Translation: 1.7 million [signatories] on the Palestine Charter electronic site. There is no issue in the world on which people can come together like this

Translation: Now that this peace deal with the Zionists has been done I wish these countries would release a questionnaire on whether people support this agreement, although the supposed resolution is agreed before the signing, just to feel the pulse of the Arab street and the extent to which it approves of such an agreement. 

Last week, the UAE Anti-Normalisation Association held a seminar with a group of experts, writers and intellectuals who stressed the importance of fighting normalisation and promoting awareness to ensure that all attempts to build mutual relations between Arabs and Israel are addressed.

The association has also pledged to set up more activities and events in the near future in its fight against normalisation.

Crackdown on anti-normalisation activists

The number of Emirati critics of the normalisation deal has been less noticeable online than those in support of it, due to the crackdown against dissent in the Gulf country.

Many of the Emiratis who have voiced their rejection of their country’s latest agreement have been based abroad, where they run less of a risk of being imprisoned for expressing their views.

Translation: We know that the signatures will not free Palestine and will not stop the peace agreement between (UAE/ Bahrain) and Israel, but it is our firm recognition of the justice of this issue and that we are Gulf Arabs against normalisation.

Translation: So that everyone knows, the UAE-Israeli normalisation is not a question of opening relations, but an ideological and human immersion into the Zionist racist and terrorist project. This behaviour cannot be interpreted in good faith, but rather to break the foundations of the State and establish animosity between it and the Arab and Muslim society.

Translation: This is the delegation of shame that history will immortalise in its black pages. The delegation of the normalisation agreement between Mohamed Bin Zayed and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. The delegation that went to sign off on the agreement that betrayed our nation and holy places and who label legitimate resistance as terrorism. May the hands of those who planned and signed be ruined.

According to Emirati human rights activist Hamad al-Shamsi, who lives in exile in Turkey and was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for his links to the al-Islah, an Islamist movement connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, those who oppose normalisation in the UAE could face a 10-year prison sentence and a fine of 1m dirhams ($27,220). 

A number of activists and human rights lawyers in the Emirates have been imprisoned or silenced for voicing support for democratic rights that conflict with the views of UAE rulers.

More than 100 peaceful activists and critics of the UAE government have been imprisoned on vague national security-related charges since 2011, with at least 67 of them still in prison today, according to Amnesty International.

Bahraini citizens have been more vocal in their rejection both online and during protests in the country, despite the ongoing crackdown on dissidents, which has seen hundreds imprisoned since 2011 for demanding reforms in the kingdom. 

Translation: Banners hung in the streets of Bahrain today #Bahrainis_Against_Normalisation

Many have been accused by the state of being Iranian mercenaries and have had their citizenships stripped.