UAE’s crown prince wants visit to Jerusalem after historic deal – report
“The [Palestinian] leadership are not looking for a solution,” al Nuaimi said. “Jews and Christians – their roots are in this area and this region; they belong here.”
PALESTINIANS HOLD a picture depicting Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan wearing a Jewish star during a protest against the UAE normalizing relations with Israel, in Turmus Aiya near Ramallah, on Wednesday.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
The United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed wants to visit Jerusalem in person as he seeks a “comprehensive peace” with Israel, a senior UAE official has told All Arab News.
A visit by the crown prince would underscore the historic nature of the normalization deal recently hammered out between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, indicating not only that the Gulf state wants a state of peace between the nations, but a “warm” peace of mutual cooperation – of a sort thought unimaginable in the Middle East for decades.
Speaking to All Arab News on Tuesday, Dr. Ali Rashid al Nuaimi, chairman of the Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee at the UAE’s Federal National Council, explained the crown prince’s strategy. “Our crown prince is a visionary person. And he has the courage to make the hard decision,” al Nuaimi said.
“He believed that we as a nation, the UAE, should carry the mission of counter-extremism in the region and in the world,” al Nuaimi said. “In order to achieve that, we had to promote peace, and look for a partner who believed in peace. And, you know, if you want to have peace in the region, you have to create peace with Israel. This is the first step; this is the strong message.”
The message coming from the UAE is one of inclusivity, al Nuaimi said, with recognition that the Middle East as a region is home to many groups, all of which have a legitimate claim to exist there. “Jews and Christians – their roots are in this area and this region,” he said. “They belong here.”
He went on to acknowledge that the perpetual state of belligerence between the groups in the region is leading to nothing but hardship for both sides of the conflict. The crowning achievement of the normalization deal between the UAE and Israel, therefore, is the promotion of coexistence, tolerance, acceptance and diversity within the region, which thus far has been missing from the narrative.
“This is why we believe in our message,” al Nuaimi said. “It’s a peace message, it’s not a political treaty. It’s a treaty of co-existence. It’s a treaty between two nations. It’s not a treaty related to governments only – no. We believe that the UAE people are ready… with the Israeli people to come together and try to create a better future for both nations and for the whole region. And to work together to take a message of peace to the world.”
On Monday, Israeli and American officials flew to Abu Dhabi to meet with UAE officials in friendship, and to discuss further details within the agreement. Cooperation is expected between the two nations on business, tourism and a joint approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic, among other issues. Emirati officials are expected to fly to Washington in September to continue those talks.
However, the deal has also deepened a growing rift between the Middle East’s Arab states, as the Palestinians came out against the deal, arguing that normalizing relations with Israel before a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is found weakens the Palestinians’ negotiating hand. They have been backed predominantly by Iran, Turkey and Qatar.
“The [Palestinian] leadership are not looking for a solution,” al Nuaimi said.
He argued that the Palestinian position is contradictory: On the one hand they claim to be the only people qualified to speak on behalf of the Palestinians; on the other, they want the UAE to put pressure on Israel on their behalf.
“Our response is [this],” al Nuaimi said. “We worked very hard to bring this opportunity to the negotiation table. You [the Palestinian leadership] come and sit with the Israelis. You are claiming that you represent the Palestinian people and you don’t want anyone to talk on your behalf: so who will sit with the Israelis and engage in a negotiation? It’s you!
“They don’t believe in the peace treaty they already signed,” he continued. “What they’re saying is that you shouldn’t do a peace treaty with Israel. Why? They did it! They signed the treaty. And they are condemning what the UAE has done. We need to create a narrative to talk directly to the Palestinian people, directly to their mind and heart, and not let the [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas media get between us.”
Expressing hope for a solution to the Middle Eastern conflict, al Nuaimi insisted that the majority of the Arab world was behind the deal – including the Palestinian people themselves. Only those who support “terrorist organizations: Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian regime and Erdoğan” are against it, he said, before indicating that the majority of the Palestinians did not fall into this group.
“We have had about 400,000 Palestinians living within the UAE for decades. We talk to them. They think we did the right thing, they see hope in what we are doing, and they are very supportive of this initiative,” he said, adding that “I think it’s very important that the Israelis also approach the Palestinian people directly – to show them the value of having peace in the region.”