Walid Mahmoud & Muhammad Shehada report in Al Jazeera, 14 August 2020:
Gaza City – Palestinians reacted with shock and dismay after US President Donald Trump unveiled an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalise ties.
The deal pledges full normalisation of relationships between the two countries in the areas of security, tourism, technology and trade in return for suspending Israel’s annexation plans in the West Bank.
Both the Palestinian leadership and public were caught by surprise when the announcement came on Thursday.
“We absolutely had no prior knowledge of this agreement,” Ahmed Majdalani, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) minister of social affairs, told Al Jazeera. “The timing and speed of reaching this agreement were surprising, especially that it came at a critical moment in the Palestinian struggle.”
Former PA minister Munib al-Masri noted Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who ruled Abu Dhabi for more than 30 years before his death in 2004, had always been a strong supporter of the Palestinians.
“The late Sheikh Zayed was a dear brother to me, I knew how much he was proud of his support for Palestine… I never imagined that in my lifetime I would see the day in which the UAE would simply sell the Palestinians out for the sake of normalisation,” al-Masri said. “It’s very shameful. I can’t believe it until now.”
Other Palestinian officials said though the news came abruptly, it was not much of a surprise.
“We were not surprised that much because the Emirati army was never on the borders ready to fight Israel,” said Mustafa al-Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative and member of the PA parliament.”We’ve been seeing recent strange moves by the UAE such as sending direct flights to Israel, and there were leaks of secret accords between the two in terms of scientific and economic cooperation. It is clear that these were preliminary steps to absorb yesterday’s shock.”