06:21 GMT23 June 2021
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    Abu Dhabi will find it difficult to justify its ties with the Jewish state, which has been accused by human rights groups of atrocities in Gaza, where at least 230 people have lost their lives. But one source says that despite the current turmoil, the UAE will stick to the Abraham Accords of October 2020.

    After 11 days of fighting, Egyptian mediators finally managed to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that came into effect at 2am on Friday.

    The initiative has already been welcomed by some world leaders, but tensions remain high and that means the truce could be broken at any given moment.

    In the United Arab Emirates, one of the signatories to the Abraham Accords of October 2020, the authorities are following the developments, and a source close to the highest echelons of the government says they would like both parties to put an end to the current mess.

    Silent Backing?

    Throughout the course of Operation Guardian of the Walls that kicked off to curb the threat of rockets emanating from the Gaza Strip, Abu Dhabi has maintained neutrality in the conflict. Yet, before the confrontation reached its peak, the Gulf state condemned Israel for its perceived aggression against the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, where tensions have been flaring in recent weeks. 

    At the time, the UAE called on Israel to end all attacks and practices against the Palestinians. But once Hamas, an Islamist group that controls the strip, launched a barrage of rockets at Israeli cities, the critics of Tel Aviv toned down their rhetoric. According to the source in Abu Dhabi, the change reflects "a terror organisation being involved".

    A masked Palestinian boy looks on as Hamas militant take part in a protest over the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in the Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, in the northern Gaza Strip May 7, 2021
    © REUTERS / MOHAMMED SALEM
    A masked Palestinian boy looks on as Hamas militant take part in a protest over the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in the Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, in the northern Gaza Strip May 7, 2021

    The Islamist group that seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation deemed terrorist by a number of regional and international players – including the UAE.

    Abu Dhabi has always viewed Hamas' activities as illegal, but it has injected cash into the strip to assist its impoverished population. Now, as some 4,000 rockets have been fired into Israel over the past 12 days, Abu Dhabi warns that their cash injections could soon end.

    The UAE has trimmed its assistance to the Palestinians before. Last October, it was reported that Abu Dhabi had decided to cut off much of its funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

    More recently, it was announced that Abu Dhabi's planned infrastructure projects in the Gaza Strip could be put in question.

    Peace with People, Not Leaders

    The UAE's relations with Israel are also at risk. Since the start of the operation last Monday, Israel has been criticised for bombarding civilians in Gaza and hurting the Palestinians, something that Abu Dhabi sees as a red line.

    However, a source in Abu Dhabi says that his country has no intention of cutting off its relations with Israel.

    "We are not planning to backtrack from the Abraham Accords. Things might slow down a bit while hostilities continue, but our stance on Israel will not change".
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during meeting with Israeli border police following violence in the Arab-Jewish town of Lod, Israel May 13, 2021.
    © REUTERS / POOL
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during meeting with Israeli border police following violence in the Arab-Jewish town of Lod, Israel May 13, 2021.

    Nor will it change, says the source, if there is a different government in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chance to form a government expired at the beginning of May and Israel's President Reuven Rivlin entrusted the head of the opposition Yair Lapid with the task.

    Although his chances of forming a government now seem to be slim, following the decision of the hawkish Yamina party to end their cooperation with Lapid, he still has under two weeks to make things work. If he succeeds, officials in Abu Dhabi are expected to embrace him, just as they did Netanyahu.

    "Bibi has a good credit for making that peace deal, but the normalisation pact is not with leaders, it is with people, and we do expect to strengthen those ties, regardless of who comes to power because in the end of the day, this is the choice of the Israeli people".

    In March, the Emirati authorities said they would invest $10 billion in Israel's economy and the source says more projects are still on their way.

    But for that to happen, the official says, the Israeli leader will eventually need to provide a solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    "That headache must end. The resolution must come in the form of the two-state solution and the leader, whoever this ends up being, will need to be strict in bringing this conflict to an end".
    Tags:
    Gaza Strip, Palestinians, Benjamin Netanyahu, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Gaza
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