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Somaliland joins world in hailing Israel and UAE diplomatic deal

Odindo Ayieko

Somaliland joined the rest of the world in expressing their support for the historic normalization of relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel on Thursday.

The United Arab Emirates became the first Gulf Arab country to reach a deal on normalizing relations with Israel, capping years of discreet contacts between the two countries in commerce and technology.

Until now Israel has had no diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab countries.

The so-called “Abraham Agreement”, announced by United States President Donald Trump on Thursday, secures an Israeli commitment to halt further annexation of Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank.

As per the agreement, in the coming weeks delegations from Israel and the UAE will meet to sign bilateral deals regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.

“Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations,” the joint statement says.

Somaliland joined Germany, Egypt, Bahrain, Oman, United Kingdom, France and the United Nations in supporting the deal between the Israel and the UAE.

Somaliland envoy to Kenya Bashe Omar Awil said the agreement is a good example of alliances between regional countries that are interested in regional stability and cooperation, and emphasizes eternal aspiration of reaching peace with neighbors.

“As a peace loving people we support the historic normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel in exchange for taking off annexation of the table(suspend applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank). The agreement is a good example of alliances between regional countries that are interested in regional stability and cooperation, and emphasizes eternal aspiration of reaching peace with neighbors,” Omar who has previously represented Somaliland in the United Arab Emirates stated.

The UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, defended the deal. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Mohammed bin Zayed decision to normalise ties with Israel reflected “badly needed realism,” he said.

“While the peace decision remains basically a Palestinian-Israeli one, the bold initiative of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has allowed, by banishing the spectre of annexing Palestinian lands, more time for peace opportunities through the two-state solution,” Gargash said in a series of tweets.

“Developing normal ties in return for this is a realistic approach forwarded by the Emirates,” he said. “The successful decision is to take and give. This has been achieved.”

Jordan said that the UAE-Israel deal could push forward stalled peace negotiations if it succeeds in prodding Israel to accept a Palestinian state on land that Israel had occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

“If Israel dealt with it as an incentive to end occupation … it will move the region towards a just peace,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a statement on state media.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a close ally of the UAE, welcomed the agreement.

“I followed with interest and appreciation the joint statement between the United States, United Arab Emirates and Israel to halt the Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands and taking steps to bring peace in the Middle East,” el-Sisi said on Twitter.

Oman said it backed the normalisation of ties between the neighbouring United Arab Emirates and Israel, and hoped the move would help achieve a lasting Middle East peace while Germany said the deal “is an important contribution to peace in the region”, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The UAE and Israel’s decision to normalise relations is hugely good news,” Johnson said on Twitter.

“It was my profound hope that annexation did not go ahead in the West Bank and today’s agreement to suspend those plans is a welcome step on the road to a more peaceful Middle East.”

France Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian termed it a “positive step” while Democratic United States presidential candidate Joe Biden said: “The UAE’s offer to publicly recognize the State of Israel is a welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship …  A Biden-Harris Administration will seek to build on this progress, and will challenge all the nations of the region to keep pace.”

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, said he hoped the normalisation of ties between Israel and the UAE can help realise a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

“The secretary-general welcomes this agreement, hoping it will create an opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to re-engage in meaningful negotiations that will realise a two state-solution in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements,” a spokesman for Guterres said in a statement.

“The secretary-general will continue to work with all sides to open further possibilities for dialogue, peace and stability,” the spokesman added.