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Israel-UAE deal: Palestinian protesters burn photos of Abu Dhabi's crown prince

Demonstrators across the occupied territories take to the streets, describing the agreement as an act of 'treason' and 'betrayal'
Protests erupted across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the besieged Gaza Strip (AFP)
By Akram al-Waara in Bethlehem, occupied West Bank

Palestinians across the occupied territories have demonstrated against the normalisation agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), announced by US President Donald Trump on Thursday. 

Over the weekend, hundreds took to the streets in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, decrying what they called an act of "treason" and "betrayal".

Protests began in Jerusalem following Friday afternoon prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as dozens of Palestinian worshipers tore up and set fire to images of Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed (MBZ), the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. 

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Israeli police prevented demonstrators from raising the Palestinian flag, confiscated posters and made arrests, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported, while similar demonstrations took place in Gaza City, Nablus and the nearby village of Haris. 

On Saturday, dozens of protesters marched through the central West Bank city of Ramallah, waving Palestinian flags and carrying a banner calling the agreement announced on 13 August a "gift to the Israeli occupation" and a "stab in the back" to Palestinians. 

"We demonstrated today to express our rejection of this deal between the UAE and Israel, which never should have happened," Hasan Faraj, 39, a Palestinian activist and secretary-general of the Fatah movement in the West Bank, told Middle East Eye of the protest in Ramallah. 

"This is a betrayal of the Palestinian people," Faraj said. "We expected this kind of thing from enemies of the Palestinian cause, but not from another Arab country like the UAE."

Video footage of the protest in Ramallah showed demonstrators setting fire to photos of MBZ and Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled Palestinian leader of the Fatah movement who currently resides in the UAE and has close ties to the crown prince.

Palestinians have accused Dahlan of being involved in the deal, which saw the UAE take credit for stopping Israel's planned annexation of Palestinian territory in exchange for full diplomatic relations with Israel.

"We consider Dahlan to be a partner in the creation of this agreement, because he has connections with both MBZ and the Israeli Mossad," Faraj said, adding that many Palestinians believe that "this deal will be used down the line to market Dahlan as a future option for the position of president of Palestine".

"But after this, Mohammed Dahlan will never be welcomed on Palestinian land again, as long as their is a Palestinian resistance against the occupation of our land," he said. 

Faraj emphasised that Palestinians demonstrating against the decision are not giving up on the support of Arab people across the Middle East, even if their governments have "betrayed the Palestinian people".

During the protest in Ramallah, Faraj said, protesters raised UAE flags and even played the country's national anthem to "show that our problem is not with the Emirati people, but with their corrupt leaders".

When asked about the prospect of other Arab countries following suit and normalising ties with Israel, Faraj said: "Even if MBZ and other leaders want to give these kinds of gifts to Israel and to [Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, we will never give up a single piece of soil on our land.

"We have been under occupation for 70 years. But we will not give up in the fight for liberation and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands."

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