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Palestinians should be 'happy' about normalisation, says UAE's al-Otaiba

Abu Dhabi's ambassador to Washington lashed out at the Palestinians for not celebrating normalisation with Israel
Yousef al-Otaiba claimed that the UAE-Israeli agreement halted Israel's plan to annex up to 30 percent of the occupied West Bank (AFP/File photo)

The UAE ambassador to the US has said that Palestinians should be grateful for the normalisation deal with Israel, again claiming that the accord prevented the large-scale annexation of the occupied West Bank - despite repeated denials by Israeli officials.

In an online conversation with former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and a number of American officials who worked on the deal, Yousef al-Otaiba reportedly lashed out at the Palestinians and accused them of being "ungrateful", Israeli newspaper Maariv reported.

"It is ironic that the Palestinians feel betrayed after the signing of the agreement, while they are supposed to be happy because this is what prevented the annexation," Otaiba said.

While Emirati officials have hailed the normalisation agreement as a successful means to stave off annexation and save the two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that he remains "committed to annexing parts of the West Bank".

Last week, the US Ambassador to Israel also appeared to pour cold water on Abu Dhabi's claims that normalisation had suspended annexation, telling the Israel Hayom newspaper he believed it "will happen".

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"We had some obstacles because of the pandemic as well as some diplomatic difficulties," David Friedman added, noting the recent developments with the UAE.

For years, the Palestinians have said that normalisation would weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that only an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and acceptance of Palestinian statehood would allow for normal relations with the Arab countries.

Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia had initially suggested that Riyadh would only formalise ties with Israel through the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, but during a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, King Salman voiced support for the US-brokered normalisation deals.

"We support the efforts of the current US administration to achieve peace in the Middle East," the Saudi monarch said.

Since the UAE and Bahrain signed normalisation agreements with Israel earlier this month, US officials have expressed optimism that several other Arab countries could also establish diplomatic ties.

The Palestinians have meanwhile condemned the deals as "a stab in the back", renouncing their chairmanship in the Arab League's current session in protest.

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