Normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates

TEL AVIV / ABU DHABI — In a step that is considered a painful blow to Iran in the region, diplomatic relations have been officially normalized between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through the mediation of the United States.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, writing via Twitter, stated that during a tripartite phone conversation, it was agreed that Israel will halt its move to annex Palestinian lands, in addition to the laying out of a roadmap for improved bilateral relations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the agreement as historic and explained that it will open new horizons in Israel’s communication with the Gulf countries.

However, despite the agreement, a senior Israeli official declared that Israel’s annexation of Palestinian lands has been only temporarily suspended.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed his country’s welcome of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, suggesting this might pave the way for the resumption of talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, with the aim of establishing two states.

“Israel’s suspension of the annexation of Palestinian lands should become a final measure,” Le Drian added.

On the contrary, the agreement was met with strong condemnation from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who recalled the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE.

While Israel secures diplomatic re-engagement with the Gulf states, the economic situation in Palestinian territories remains dire.

Both Christians and Muslims might leave Palestine for economic reasons. “Palestinian Christians are twice as likely as their Muslim neighbors to emigrate”, according to a survey conducted by the Philos Project, a pro-Israel and Christian advocacy organization. Nearly 77% of Palestinian Christians surveyed said they are worried about radical Salafist groups in Palestine.

The situation in Israel is different. The number of Christians in Israel is now much higher than those living in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem combined.

The number of Christians in Israel which are eligible for Aramaic nationality is approximately 89,000 made up of members of members of the Syriac Maronite Church (≈10,000), Syriac Orthodox Church (≈5,000), Syriac Catholic Church (≈3,000), Assyrian Church of the East (≈1,000), and the Syriac Rum or Melkite Catholic Greek Church ( ≈80,000).