Israel’s Arab party to vote against UAE peace accord

Arab parties in Israel’s parliament call the peace agreement an “arms deal, not peace.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A member of the Joint List party in the Knesset said his faction will vote against the Israel-UAE peace accord, claiming it amounts to an arms deal and not peace, Channel 12 reported Wednesday.

Knesset member Sami Abu Shehadeh of the Balad faction in the predominantly Arab Joint list said the 15 members of the list oppose the historic accord under which the United Arab Emirates will establish diplomatic ties and normalize relations with Israel.

The accord will be presented on Thursday to the Knesset, Israel’s 120-seat parliament, for ratification.

“This is one of the largest arms deals that Israel has made in recent years,” Abu Shehadeh said. “If this is Israeli peace – we do not want it.”

Abu Shehadeh said the four parties that make up the Joint List could not approve an agreement in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was bypassed.

“The Arab-Israeli conflict has never been about economic questions. The source of the conflict is in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the territories belonging to other Arab states,” Abu Shehadeh said. “The deal in question, which ignores the occupation and the Palestinians, distances peace and does not bring it closer.”

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Palestinian leaders had previously rejected the separate peace deals that the UAE and Bahrain decided to sign with Israel, calling the unilateral agreements a “stab in the back.”

Abu Shehadeh also questioned why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to reveal confidential sections of the accords until after their approval.

“The need for secret appendices and great secrecy surrounding the ‘peace’ agreement between two countries that have never fought worries us and proves that both countries have something to be ashamed of and something to hide,” Abu Shehadeh said. “As part of the Palestinian people, we are fighting for peace, justice and equality for all citizens.”

Abu Shehadeh said his party believes in regional peace and the need to end the Israeli-Arab conflict, “but the arms deal that is being brought here does not resolve the conflict and does not promote peace. In our opinion, this deal will lead to more destruction and less to peace.”

It’s not clear what Shehadeh meant by an arms deal. He may have been speaking of U.S. willingness to sell advanced F-35 stealth bombers to the UAE, a move opposed by Israel. The deal itself doesn’t appear to mention an F-35 sale.

The deal does speak of business and technological opportunities. Adiv Baruch, chairman of the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute, said last month of the deal that it could lead to $10 billion in trade within the next 5 years.”