Arab reaction to Israel-UAE deal runs the gamut

Reactions to Israel-UAE agreement vary in the Arab world: Senior Saudi journalist praises it, Qatari press vehemently attacks.

By Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

The announcement of a normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE, in advance of the signing of an Israel-UAE peace agreement, sparked many reactions across the Arab world. Senior Saudi journalist Mishari Al-Dhaidi wrote in his August 14 column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the agreement was a “historic diplomatic achievement” and compared it to Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan.

In contrast, the Qatari press, as expected, vehemently attacked the agreement, including with invective against the UAE and accusations that it had betrayed and sold out the Palestinian cause and gotten nothing in return. Qatari journalists also tweeted messages attacking it, and UAE leader Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed  personally, calling him a liar and the “Satan of the Arabs,” and claiming that with this agreement he had left the fold of Islam. Some even called on the Arab countries to boycott the UAE and recall their ambassadors from it.

The following are translations of Al-Dhaidi’s column praising the agreement and Qatari attacks on it.

Saudi journalist: Palestinians will benefit

In his August 14, 2020 column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Mishari Al-Dhaidi wrote:

“To put it directly and clearly, the UAE achieved a great political, psychological and security breakthrough in the Middle East when the historic agreement with Israel was announced. This agreement does not disregard the justified right of the Palestinians to establish their state and protect the Islamic holy places for all Muslims. [Rather,] it provides a feasible opportunity… to implement the two-state solution in practice.

“The UAE has made a tangible achievement on the Palestinian front  ̶  through action, not slogans  ̶  by stopping the erosion of the Palestinian lands in the West Bank in favor of [Israeli] settlements, an issue that was explicitly stated in the tripartite announcement by the UAE, the U.S. and Israel. Turkey, Qatar, Iran and all the rest of the big talkers, and obviously also the organizations of chaos, such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Houthis and Hizbullah, will continue operating their word-mill  against the UAE, for [this word-mill] never stopped churning out invective and against this noble, strong and tranquil Arab country…

“Egypt’s historic [leader], president Anwar Sadat, was attacked when he protected his country from a dire fate and from the loss of its territories [by signing the Camp David Accords]. He was a true hero of war and of peace, for Egypt still enjoys the benefits of the peace he made with Israel. Later, the great Jordanian king, Hussein bin Tallal, was attacked when he refused to succumb to the market of populist slogans and brought his country peace [while also] restoring its territories as part of the famous Wadi Araba [peace] agreement. Being a realistic and responsible Arab leader, Egyptian President ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi welcomed the [agreement] between the UAE and Israel, achieved under the aegis of the U.S. and [its president] Trump.

“The absurd thing is that the propaganda [machine] of the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey and Iran is shooting its arrows at the UAE, while Turkey’s trade, military and tourism relations with Israel continue unabated. Qatar, the shop where Al-Jazeera [hocks its wares,] is also friendly with Tel-Aviv and coordinates with it!

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“The agreement between the UAE and Israel at least does not come at the expense of the Arabs and Palestinians, but rather benefits them. Whether we like it or not, Israel is one of the countries of this region, and Iran and Turkey are the ones who do us harm that we feel and that [really] burns us. Suffice it to mention what Turkey is doing in Libya and what Iran is doing in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. According to the tripartite statement issued by the UAE, the U.S. and Israel, this historic diplomatic achievement can strengthen peace in the Middle East while preserving the two-state [solution] – for real, not in anyone’s imagination. In any case, negotiations, talks and agreements between Israel and Arab countries are nothing new. Some examples are the Camp David Accords, the Madrid, Oslo, Wye and Annapolis agreements, and so on.

“Finally, [let me state that] the populist slogans that are sure to be made against the UAE will be aimed at claiming a monopoly over [the right to reach] agreements and [hold] negotiations with Israel.”

Qatari daily: Palestinians became pawns

An article on the website of the Qatari daily Al-Sharq stated: “[Is it] ‘suspension’ [of the annexation] or freezing [it]? Or is this another deception by Abu Dhabi? Two conflicting statements, one by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed and another by his state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, [were issued] simultaneously on the same topic, but there were discrepancies between them and they differed in details-from-the-devil… The UAE declared the full normalization [of its relations] with Israel, and bin Zayed tweeted that this normalization was in return for suspending Israel’s annexation of the Palestinian lands…  [But] while bin Zayed spoke of ‘suspending,’ Gargash spoke of ‘freezing’ [the annexation]!! Gargash reiterated this in a post on his official Twitter account…. It appears that between ‘suspending’ and ‘freezing,’ the Palestinian cause has become a pawn in bin Zayed’s hands. He is holding negotiations about it… in order to profit, and using the Palestinians and their cause as a cover for his own ambitions…

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“In recent years, Abu Dhabi has used its media to lead a vicious propaganda [campaign] on an international scale. The UAE media never tired of describing the Islamic resistance movement Hamas as a terrorist organization and accusing it of holding the Gazans hostage and of causing the destruction of the region and of bringing it to its [current] situation. In this context, it is impossible to ignore the UAE’s campaigns of maligning and renouncing the Palestinian cause, its brandishing of slogans such as ‘[The Palestinian Cause Is] Not My Cause,’ and its positive statements about Israel…

“All of this was apparently prepared very carefully and planned by someone who thought about every [detail]… and who today declared the normalization [of relations with Israel in every area:] political, economic, military, intelligence, and cultural, as well as in sports. He told the world: ‘I am here to make peace because I come from the land of peace; I, [Muhammad] bin Zayed, am the sponsor of tolerance, love and brotherhood…’ The Palestinian Authority said, in a statement it issued, that what the UAE has done today is an act of treason against Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause…

UAE now the ‘greatest danger’ to Palestinians

An August 14, 2020 article in the printed edition of the Al-Sharq daily, titled “The UAE has become the greatest danger to the Palestinian cause,” stated: “Observers believe that this agreement is the outcome of a plan by Abu Dhabi that was prepared over [a period of] years, during which [the UAE] demonized the Palestinians in order to prepare the ground for marketing relations with Tel Aviv to the region and in order to clean up the image of the Israeli regime…

“Since the publication of the U.S. plan known as the Deal of the Century, brokered by Jared Kushner… the UAE has conspicuously played a major role at every juncture relevant to this plan, which observers believe is aimed at eliminating the Palestinian cause. The UAE has been a frontline player in marketing the American Deal of the Century so as to eliminate the Palestinian cause in a far-reaching and unprecedented manner… Many observers believe that the greatest danger to the Palestinian cause is posed by some neighboring countries that consider Israel a strategic ally and a friend.”

Bin Zayed, ‘the Satan of the Arabs’

Criticism of the agreement was also expressed by the Qatari press,on Twitter. The editor of the Qatari Al-Sharq daily, Sadeq Muhammad Al-‘Amari, tweeted: “…Abu Dhabi has sold out the Palestinian cause, and in exchange the UAE flag was illuminated on Tel Aviv’s city hall building.”

Fahed Al-‘Amadi, editing director of the Qatari Al-Watan daily, tweeted in response to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed’s announcement: “The Satan of the Arabs, bin Zayed, is inserting the name of Palestine as a pretext to justify  this shameful agreement with Israel, and is playing the role of being concerned about the Palestinian cause, when he is the first to sell it out, treat it with enmity, and act against it. He is even continuing to lie in his tweet about suspending the annexation, when the truth is that it is being postponed, not suspended.”

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A ‘black day’ in Arab and Muslim history

Qatari journalist Jaber bin Nasser Al-Marri tweeted: “A black day in the history of the Gulf, the Arabs, and the Muslims.”

Jamal Rayyan, a news anchor on the Qatari Al-Jazeera channel who in 2018 expressed his support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad and added that all foreigners in Palestine “will go back to where they came from,” wrote in a series of tweets:

“Freezing the annexation – lying excuses. Who are you laughing at?” and “Muhammad bin Zayed has sold Palestine for a pittance. The humiliating peace agreement between Israel and the UAE is aimed at rescuing Trump before the end of his term.” On a tweet of a photo of bin Zayed, he wrote: “This is the man who massacred the martyrs of Palestine again, in their graves. How will he be remembered by history?”

He also tweeted, again with a photo of bin Zayed: “Your name is Muhammad, but you have been cast out of the nation of Muhammad.”

Al-Jazeera journalist Hathem Abu Salah tweeted: “Trump declared that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed had agreed on full normalization of relations. I do not understand why the UAE is doing everything for normalization with the occupying enemy who has killed hundreds in Palestine and Lebanon. In my opinion, self-respecting Arab countries must boycott the UAE and recall their ambassadors from it.”

Muna Hawwa, the Al-Jazeera producer who prepared the controversial Al-Jazeera Plus video that questioned the Holocaust, which aired in May 2019, tweeted in response to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed: “There is a Palestinian saying, ‘even after the whore repents, she continues to stand in the doorway’ – that is, the doorway of the brothel. Bin Zayed’s tweet [about the normalization agreement with Israel] is like that whore, who is ashamed of herself. He is incapable of writing an open announcement about normalization, and also of speaking without covering himself with the name of Palestine which he betrayed. Habibi [bin Zayed], you are like that whore. [Just] admit this, without an idiotic attempt to hide behind [talk] of suspending the annexation of the West Bank.”