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UAE official says annexation of West Bank will not end normalisation deal

UAE says it gained US and Israeli assurances that annexation is halted but that such a future move would not end relations
Israel and UAE cemented their new relations on Monday (AFP)

A UAE official admitted on Tuesday that the country will not sever its new diplomatic relations if Israel breaks a promise not to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.  

Foreign ministry official Jamal al-Musharakh claimed in a news conference that the UAE had halted the annexation by making promises from Israel and the United States part of their normalisation deal, but said relations will continue regardless of future events. 

"We remain with the Arab consensus... What we did was halt the annexation. The ultimate solution and the end solution is a Palestinian sustained solution," Israeli newspaper Haaretz newspaper quoted him as saying.

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However, when asked if annexation would mean the normalisation process would collapse, Musharakh said, "it does not".

He said the UAE could not predict Israel's future moves and that relations have developed "in several fields, and one isn't prioritised over the other".

The UAE's steps have been criticised by Palestinians and have been controversial in Arab countries, most of which still have no formal relations with Israel, and it has defended the deal by arguing it prevented annexation of the West Bank. 

Israel has however insisted that annexation remains a possibility. 

Musharakh also claimed the deal is good for all of the region, including the Palestinians. 

In a televised speech on Tuesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accused the UAE of betraying the Muslim world by signing the deal with Israel. 

"I hope the Emiratis soon wake up and compensate for what they have done," Khamenei said. 

"The UAE rulers opened the door of the region to the Zionists, and they have ignored and normalised the question of Palestine."

Coveted F-35 jets

Musharakh also commented on reports that part of the normalisation plan is an arms deal in which the US would sell F-35 fighter jets to the UAE.

"These are longstanding requests we’ve had [to purchase the jets]. We see them as legitimate,” he said.

“This wasn't the condition or the catalyst for this deal."

An Israeli and US delegation landed on Monday afternoon in Abu Dhabi to formalise the US-brokered normalisation deal.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a member of the US-Israeli delegation, visited a UAE air base on Tuesday where the US operates the F-35 fighter jets coveted by Abu Dhabi.

Israel has denied reports that the deal hinges on the sale of the jets to the UAE, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he opposes a move that could reduce its strategic edge in the region.

Kushner said on Monday that the US could maintain that edge "while also advancing our military relationship with the United Arab Emirates" and that the issue would be discussed further in coming weeks.

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