Palestinians Struggle to Secure Arab Opposition to Israel-UAE Deal, Officials Say

France's Macron tells Abbas that resuming peace talks remains a priority, while the Palestinian Authority works to stop other Arab countries from following in the UAE's footsteps

Jack Khoury
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Palestinian protesters lift national flags during a demonstration against the Emirati-Israeli agreement, Ramallah, August 15, 2020.
Palestinian protesters lift national flags during a demonstration against the Emirati-Israeli agreement, Ramallah, August 15, 2020.Credit: ABBAS MOMANI / AFP
Jack Khoury

The resumption of peace negotiations remain a priority to reach a just solution in the Middle East, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter on Sunday after speaking with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

PODCAST: Inside Israel's no-change, no-cost peace deal with the UAECredit: Haaretz

"I spoke with the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas," Macron said. "I told him I was determined to work for peace in the Middle East. The resumption of negotiations towards a just solution in accordance with international law remains a priority."

Also Sunday, the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE, Essam Masalha, arrived back in Ramallah after being withdrawn over the Gulf country's normalization deal with Israel, with senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub saying ther were no plans to send him back to Abu Dhabi.

Meanwhile, senior officials admitted the Palestinian Authority is struggling to secure commitments by other Arab states or lead a large-scale diplomatic effort in the Arab and Muslim world to prevent more countries from following in the UAE’s footsteps.

There are some talks with regional leaders, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz, “but so far we haven't been able to promote an emergency meeting of the Arab League or another move, as we did when the [U.S.] embassy was moved” to Jerusalem.

Emmanuel Macron speaks during a Defense Council video conference at Fort de Bregancon, France, August 11, 2020. Credit: Daniel Cole/Pool via REUTERS

On Monday, the Palestinian leadership is expected to convene in Ramallah to discuss further action on that matter, specifically looking at ways to stop Bahrain, Oman and Sudan from moving towards normalizing ties with Israel.

A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that Thursday’s announcement came as a complete surprise to the Palestinians leadership and that even President Abbas didn’t know about it.

Abbas said after announcement of the deal on Thursday that he "rejects and denounces the surprising announcement by Israel, the United States and the UAE," and called it a "betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause."

On Friday, dozens of Palestinian worshipers tore up, trampled and set fire to images of Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, as they protested in the compound of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem against the agreement between the UAE with Israel.

According to eyewitnesses, during the protest, the police prevented the hoisting of Palestinian flags, confiscated posters from the worshipers and arrested some of them. Since the announcement of the agreement last night, several processions and demonstrations have been held in Gaza and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Under an agreement brokered by U.S. President Donald Trump, Israel and the UAE announced on Thursday that they will normalize diplomatic ties, brought together by a confluence of interests against Iran.

Condemnation also came from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose spokesman on Thursday read out a statement from the leadership on Palestinian television calling the deal a "betrayal of Jerusalem, al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause".

Palestinians across Gaza and the occupied West Bank rallied on Friday against the deal. Protesters in the city of Nablus burned effigies of Trump, Netanyahu and Zayed.

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