Israeli cabinet approves UAE peace accord; ‘first agreement in over 25 years,’ Netanyahu says

The agreement will be submitted to the Knesset Thursday for approval. Netanyahu thanks former UK PM Tony Blair for his role.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s cabinet on Monday unanimously approved the peace accord signed in Washington last month with the United Arab Emirates and will now submit the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement to the Knesset for final approval.

“This is the first peace agreement that Israel has signed in over 25 years. We are also completing the agreements with Bahrain, meaning that we will be making peace with two Arab states at the same time,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting.

Netanyahu pointed out that the accord was a change from the land-for-peace scenario that dominated the Middle East peace process for decades, and in this instance peace was achieved with two Arab countries without conceding any territory.

With the region opening up after Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain ended their boycott and now allow their airspace to be used for flights to and from Israel, Netanyahu said Israel “is no longer a cul-de-sac but is becoming a main hub” and called the agreement “a very major geopolitical turning point.”

This agreement … is based on peace from strength, not peace from concessions that will weaken Israel and endanger it,” Netanyahu said. “We need to achieve peace and we can achieve peace by convincing the Arabs that our being here is an existing fact, based on our strength which is undisputed.”

Netanyahu said his vision for peace was based not on land concessions to the Palestinians, but on a broad reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world that will then lead to the advancement of a realistic peace with the Palestinians.

The path to the Abraham Accords began five years ago and Netanyahu paid special thanks to the United States and to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who served as special Quartet envoy to the Middle East until 2015 and was revealed last month to have been one of the key brokers of the first meetings between Israel and Gulf Arab states.

“The direct and very important involvement of President Trump and his team” was central to the peace accord’s success, Netanyahu said.

The Arab states want to make peace with us because they see how we have turned Israel into a major power,” Netanyahu said. “They also see how we are standing against Iran, sometimes alone, against the entire world. They understand that we can assist them in very many areas. They see that Israel is neither a burden nor an enemy – but a vital ally all the time, but especially now.”

Over the weekend Netanyahu spoke with UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. The two invited each other for visits and confirmed that next week both countries will send delegations for talks on expanding ties.