UAE deal signals end to ‘land for peace,’ says Netanyahu

“The concept of ‘peace through withdrawal and weakness’ has passed from the world,” said the Israeli prime minister.

By Associated Press

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that a deal to establish full diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates proves that Israel doesn’t need to retreat from land in order to achieve peace with Arab states.

Israel and the UAE announced Thursday they were establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal that required Israel to put on “temporary hold” Israel’s plan to extend sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Netanyahu said the delay was instituted at the request of the United States.

The UAE, like most of the Arab world, long rejected official diplomatic ties with Israel. Its accord could usher in agreements with other Arab states, undermining the Arab rejectionism that was a source of leverage for the Palestinians.

“According to the Palestinians, and to many others in the world who agreed with them, peace can’t be reached without conceding to the Palestinians’ demands, including uprooting settlements, dividing Jerusalem and withdrawal to 1967 lines,” Netanyahu said in a video statement. “No more. This concept of ‘peace through withdrawal and weakness’ has passed from the world.”

The Palestinians want all of Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip for a future state, and they have demanded Israel withdraw from those areas.

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Israel gained control of Judea and Samaria and reunited Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, which started when several Arab nations attacked Israel.

Israel withdrew all citizens living in Gaza in 2005 and removed all IDF troops at that time.

What has been a wall of Arab support for the Palestinians and their demands has begun to crack in recent years, in large part because of the shared enmity of Israel and other Arab states toward Iran and Iranian proxies in the region.

The Palestinians bristled at Netanyahu’s remarks.

“Peace should be established on the basis of the Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. This is the Arab and international consensus and anything else has no value,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Rdeneh mae the remarks notwithstanding the fact that several other Arab nations are reportedly considering establishing official diplomatic relations with Israel.

Netanyahu also reiterated Sunday his position on the UAE deal: sovereignty is only being suspended and that is still on the table, so long as it was done in coordination with Washington.

UAE officials have claimed that the deal means sovereignty in Judea and Samaria has been shelved entirely.

After President Donald Trump released his Mideast plan earlier this year, Netanyahu said he would forge ahead with sovereignty over about 30 percent of Judea and Samaria in areas in which Jewish communities are located.

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Netanyahu, who has seen his popularity plummet over his handling of the coronavirus crisis, has faced searing criticism from settler leaders and their representatives in parliament over the sovereignty backtrack, and he has tried to reassure them that he remains committed to the move.