Tag Archives: UAE

Israel bombs Gaza as UAE, Bahrain signs US normalising deals.

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Israeli planes pound Gaza after rockets fired from besieged strip as Israel, UAE, Bahrain signed normalisation deals.

The Israeli military has carried out a series of air raids on the besieged Gaza Strip overnight on Wednesday, causing damage to property, Palestinian media reported.

According to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a site in Beit Lahiya in the northern strip. They also targeted areas in Deir al-Balah, a city in central Gaza, as well as parts of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. No casualties were reported.

Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday warned Israel it “will pay the price for any aggression against our people or resistance sites and the response will be direct”.

“We will increase and expand our response to the extent that the occupation persists in its aggression,” it said in a statement.

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Without naming specific factions, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza said in response to the Israeli air raids, the “resistance” fired rocket salvoes at Israel.

Israel, UAE and Bahrain sign US-brokered normalisation deals

Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli army in a statement said it carried out 10 air strikes against positions belonging to Hamas in response to rockets being fired into Israel.

Israel, UAE and Bahrain sign US-brokered normalisation deals • On Tuesday evening, at least two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, one of which was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, while the other struck the coastal Israeli city of Ashdod, wounding two people.

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The rockets were fired at the same time as Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements at the White House in Washington to establish diplomatic relations.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state that includes the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza, view the US-brokered deals as a betrayal of their cause.

The latest rocket fire from Gaza came after a month of armed groups in the strip stepping up incendiary balloon attacks against Israel, which responded with nighttime air raids against Hamas.

Since 2008, Israel has waged three wars on the Gaza Strip. Israel has long said it holds Hamas responsible for all violence from Gaza, while Hamas says Israel is responsible for the state of anger and pressure inflicted on Gaza’s residents due to the continued siege.

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Anti-normalisation rallies
The normalisation moves by the UAE and Bahrain with Israel prompted demonstrations in the Palestinian territories on Tuesday.

Clutching Palestinian flags and wearing blue face masks for protection against the coronavirus, demonstrators rallied in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Hebron, and in Gaza.

Hundreds also took part in a demonstration in Ramallah, home of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas warned that the deals would “not achieve peace in the region” until the US and Israel acknowledged his people’s right to a state.

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“Peace, security and stability will not be achieved in the region until the Israeli occupation ends,” he said.

The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.

Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from already illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state in exchange for establishing ties with it.

Abbas warned that “attempts to bypass the Palestinian people and its leadership, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, will have dangerous consequences”.

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In Gaza, protesters trampled on and set fire to placards bearing images of the leaders of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.

Since 2007, Gaza has been crippled by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has deprived its roughly two million people of vital commodities including food, fuel and medicine.

The Gaza Strip has a population of two million, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank.

Hamas and Israel last month reached a Qatari-mediated ceasefire deal and revived a fragile 18-month truce. The group has joined the PA in condemning the UAE and Bahraini accords as a “betrayal” of their cause.


#Newsworthy…

UAE-Israeli deal: Arab league over Palestinian cause to dominate talks

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Arab foreign ministers will attend a virtual session against the backdrop of UAE normalising relations with Israel.

An Arab League meeting on Wednesday will focus on the Palestinian cause after the Israel-UAE “normalisation” deal, with analysts suggesting division rather than usual unity on the issue will dominate the discussion.

The run-up to the virtual session has already left a sour taste for the Palestinian leadership.

On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain of blocking a draft resolution that called on Arab states to adhere to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative plan before normalising ties with Israel.

The Arab Initiative put forth by Saudi Arabia calls for establishing ties with Israel in exchange for its withdrawal to the 1967 borders, a just solution for Palestinian refugees, and occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Footprints are placed on images of US President Donald Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest in the West Bank city of Nablus [File: Majdi Mohammed/AP]

A senior member of the PA’s governing Fatah faction, Hussein Hamayel, said Bahrain’s opposition to the draft resolution “places it on the side of the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims”.

However on Tuesday, in a bid to soften its tone, the official spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the leader “will not accept insulting the national symbols of Arab nations, including the United Arab Emirates”.

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In a statement carried by the official news agency Wafa, Nabil Abu Rudeinah said the state of Palestine is keen on “maintaining brotherly relations with all Arab countries on the basis of mutual respect, with the necessity of the latter adhering to the Arab Peace Initiative”.

‘Betraying the cause’
Announced by US President Donald Trump on August 13, the UAE-Israeli normalisation agreement caught the PA by surprise, which then accused the UAE of betraying the Palestinian cause – long seen as a pan-Arab issue.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said more Arab countries will soon follow in the UAE’s steps, and Bahrain and Oman have both voiced support.

“The Palestinian cause has traditionally been a unifying theme for the Arab League, which this year appears to be more a cause for division, rendering the Arab League ever more irrelevant in managing the affairs of the Arab world,” said Andreas King, assistant professor of security studies at King’s College London.

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The motion to be put forth by the Palestinian leadership will likely not be endorsed by a number of Gulf states, he added.

A Palestinian waves a national flag during a protest against Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip [File: Majdi Mohammed]

“While there might not be an immediate move by any other Arab state to normalise ties with Israel formally, there will be more exchanges and engagement with Israel, which is no longer tied to the Palestinian cause,” King told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media.

“For the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been relegated to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, which should not be an obstacle to a warming of bilateral ties with Israel.”

Marwa Fatafta, a policy member with the Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka, agreed, saying geopolitical interests “trump the rights of Palestinians”.

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“Many Gulf states have keen interest in formalising ties with Israel and the UAE-Israel was the ice-breaker,” she said. “Normalisation between Israel and Gulf states has already been in the making, and now it is just a matter of timing.

“What would probably come out from the Arab League is the usual recycled lip-service to the Palestinians,” she added.

Saudi stance

The Arab League, in contrast to Abbas’s granted request to hold an emergency session in the aftermath of the US announcing Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan, refused to do the same once news of the UAE-Israel agreement was announced.

This led to Saeb Erekat, the secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee, to call on Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit to condemn the UAE’s normalisation deal with Israel – or step down.

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“If he is not able to issue a statement condemning the UAE-Israeli normalisation, he should resign,” Erekat told PalestineTV.

And while regional power Saudi Arabia has declared it will not normalise relations with Israel without securing Palestinian interests, Riyadh fell short of condemning the UAE’s decision.

“Saudi Arabia will verbally endorse the Palestinian cause, the issue of Jerusalem, and the Arab Peace Initiative,” King said. “However, it remains to be seen what Riyadh does in terms of action on the matter.”

A view of a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers after US President Donald Trump announced his Middle East plan [File: Mohamed Abd el-Ghany/Reuters]

The oil-rich kingdom could choose the opportunity to shore up support for the Arab Peace Initiative, King continued, while simultaneously not taking a solid stance against normalisation, thereby leaving the door open for individual Arab states to deal with Israel as they see fit.

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“With the UAE as a leading Arab state already sacrificing the Palestinian cause to satisfy Emirati national interests with Israel, it will be hard to build firm support for the Arab Peace Initiative in this multilateral setting,” he said.

Fatafta said Saudi Arabia will stick to the Arab Peace Initiative plan, more for the sake of convenience, while at the same time cultivating warmer ties with Israel.

“Saudi Arabia indicated on number of occasions over the years that it has interest in cooperating with Israel especially with the growing threat from Iran,” she said.

“In fact, Saudi Arabia facilitated the normalisation deal between Israel and the UAE by opening its airspace for direct flights between the two countries.”


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Hamas, Hezbollah chiefs meet to discuss UAE-Israeli ties

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Meeting comes after August’s agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalise diplomatic relations.

Leaders of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and the Palestinian Hamas group met to discuss diplomatic normalisation between Israel and Arab countries, the movement said.

On Sunday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniya was given a hero’s welcome at Ain al-Helweh, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp.

Hezbollah-run Al-Manar television reported earlier that Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah movement, and Haniya stressed the “stability” of the “axis of resistance” against Israel.

They discussed “political and military developments in Palestine, Lebanon and the region” and “the dangers to the Palestinian cause”, including “Arab plans for normalisation” with Israel, Al-Manar said.

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The meeting comes after an August 13 announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed to normalise ties.

While the United States-backed diplomatic drive aims to boost a regional alliance against Iran, Palestinians have condemned it as a “stab in the back” as they remain under occupation and do not have their own state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is in talks with other Arab and Muslim leaders now about normalising relations, following the deals with the UAE and, decades ago, Egypt and Jordan.

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First visit in 30 years
Haniya arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday, on his first visit to the country in nearly 30 years, for direct and video-conference talks with other Palestinian groups that oppose Israel’s diplomatic initiative.

Haniya, who heads the political bureau of Hamas, the movement that controls the Gaza Strip, arrived in Ain al-Helweh under the protection of Hamas members and camp guards.

Head of Hamas Ismail Haniya, left, and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah meet in Beirut, Lebanon [Hezbollah Press Office/Anadolu]

Before a cheering crowd of hundreds in Ain al-Helweh, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, including refugees who travelled to see him from other camps, Haniya praised his movement’s military capacity and shrugged off the UAE-Israel normalisation deal.

“Not long ago, our rockets only reached [targets] metres from Gaza’s borders. Today, the resistance in Gaza possesses rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and beyond Tel Aviv,” he said.

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As for normalisation between Israel and Arab countries, that “does not represent the people, neither their conscience, nor their history nor their heritage”, Haniya said, quoted in a Hamas statement.

Israel’s military has in recent weeks targeted Hamas in the Gaza Strip and what it says have been Hezbollah gunmen along its northern border with Lebanon.

It also regularly launches air attacks in war-torn Syria against what it says are Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian fighters fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Nasrallah has been living in secret locations since Hezbollah’s devastating 2006 war with Israel and only makes rare public appearances. He said in 2014 that he often changes his place of residence.


#Newsworthy…

Serbia will relocate office to Jerusalem – Israeli PM, Netanyahu.

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Israeli PM announces move after Serbia and Kosovo agreed on historic pact at White House to normalise economic ties.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Serbia will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, becoming the first European country to follow the United States in making the move.

Most diplomatic missions in Israel have been in Tel Aviv as countries stayed neutral over the disputed city of Jerusalem until its status could be settled in an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

But in December 2017, US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced the shifting the US embassy from Tel Aviv.

On Friday, Netanyahu revealed Serbia’s move, adding that the transfer will happen by July 2021.

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“I thank my friend the president of Serbia … for the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to transfer his embassy there,” Netanyahu said.

“I would like also to thank my friend President Trump for contributing to this achievement.”

News of the move by Serbia, not a member of the 27-nation EU, coincided with the announcement by Trump that former foes Serbia and Kosovo had agreed on an historic pact to normalise economic relations.

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Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official slammed Serbia’s decision, saying it makes “Palestine a victim” of Trump’s re-election hopes.

Israel seized control of East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in moves never recognised by the international community. [Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP]

“Palestine has become a victim of the electoral ambitions of President Trump, whose team would take any action, no matter how destructive for peace … to achieve his re-election,” said Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in a tweet.

“This, just like the UAE-Israel agreement [to normalise diplomatic ties], isn’t about Middle East Peace,” he added.

Israel seized control of East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in moves never recognised by the international community.

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It considers the city its undivided capital, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) sees the occupied eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City with its holy sites, as the capital of their future state.

The United Nations and the European Union, Israel’s top economic partner, say the city’s final status must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, before which countries should not locate their embassies there.

Netanyahu also announced that Israel had set up diplomatic relations from Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

“Kosovo will become the first majority-Muslim country to open an embassy in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “As I’ve said in recent days – the circle of peace and recognition of Israel is expanding and more countries are expected to join.”

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Disputed city
Trump’s decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem three years ago triggered Palestinian outrage and a diplomatic shockwave.

So far, only Guatemala followed in his footsteps, also opening up its diplomatic mission in the holy city in May 2018.

Friday’s announcement also comes less than a month after Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalise ties under a US-brokered deal.

The agreement, expected to be signed at a White House ceremony in the coming weeks, would be Israel’s first with a Gulf nation, and the third with an Arab country after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

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The issue of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, includes Islam’s third holiest site – the golden Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

It is also home to the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews are allowed to pray, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

More than 200,000 Israeli settlers live in occupied East Jerusalem, which is home to about 300,000 Palestinians.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Bahrain agree UAE-Israel flight cross its airstrip.

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Decision comes after Saudi allowed first direct Israeli commercial flight to use its airspace following UAE-Israel deal.

Bahrain has said all flights to and from the United Arab Emirates can cross its airspace, a move that will allow air services between Israel and the UAE to fly over the kingdom.

Thursday’s decision, which the kingdom’s aviation authority said came at the request of the UAE, follows an agreement last month that saw the UAE becoming the third Arab country to reach a deal with Israel about normalising ties.

The US-brokered agreement, which capped years of discreet contact between the two countries in commerce and technology, was denounced by the Palestinians as a betrayal of their cause by a major Arab player, while they still lack a state of their own.

“Bahrain will allow all flights coming to and departing from the United Arab Emirates to all countries to cross its airspace,” reported the official Bahrain News Agency, citing an official source at the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications.

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The decision cuts flying time between the Middle East states by several hours.

Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and a British naval base, has an historic Jewish community. The kingdom has slowly encouraged ties to Israel, with two US-based rabbis in 2017 saying King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa himself promoted the idea of ending the boycott of Israel by Arab nations.

Last month, an Israeli official said Bahrain and Oman could be the next Gulf countries to follow the UAE in formalising ties with Israel.

Kushner (left) meets Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (right) during his visit to Manama earlier this week [Bahrain News Agency/Reuters]

But Bahraini state media reported last week that King Hamad had told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who was in Manama as part of a Middle East tour aimed at forging more links between Israel and Arab countries following the UAE-Israel deal – that the Gulf state was committed to the creation of a Palestinian state.

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Earlier this week, Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, flew with a high-level Israeli delegation to the UAE on the first direct commercial passenger flight between the two countries.

While no other Arab country has yet indicated a willingness to follow the UAE, Saudi Arabia allowed the El Al charter flight carrying Kushner and the Israelis to use its airspace.

On Wednesday, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told Kushner that Doha remained committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. In the initiative, Arab nations offered Israel normalised ties in return for a statehood deal with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

The UAE has promoted the deal as hinging on Israel halting its contentious plan to annex parts of the West Bank sought by the Palestinians for their future state. The deal also may allow Abu Dhabi to buy advanced weaponry from the US, including the F-35 stealth fighter jet.


#Newsworthy…

US Jared Kushner pushes other Arab States for more after UAE-Israeli peace deal.

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White House adviser Jared Kushner travels to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia seeking more support for normalising ties.


After accompanying an Israeli delegation to the United Arab Emirates for historic normalisation talks, White House adviser Jared Kushner set off on a tour of other Gulf capitals on Tuesday, looking for more Arab support.

Israel and the UAE set up a joint committee to cooperate on financial services at the talks in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi. Kushner, United States President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, accompanied the Israeli delegation Monday on what was billed as the first Israeli commercial flight to the influential Gulf monarchy, which agreed in August to normalise relations with Israel.

Israel exchanged embassies with neighbours Egypt and Jordan under peace deals decades ago. But until now, all other Arab states had demanded it first cede more land to the Palestinians, prompting criticism from stakeholders across the region.

Palestinians have condemned the deal as a stab in the back by a major Arab player while they still lack a state of their own. Turkey threatened to suspend relations with the UAE after normalisation was announced.

Israel’s archrival Iran has been scathing in its criticism. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted Tuesday that “the UAE betrayed the world of Islam, the Arab nations, the region’s countries, and Palestine”.

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Kushner later flew to Bahrain and then Saudi Arabia and is expected also to visit Qatar.

In Bahrain, which houses the US naval headquarters for the region, the state news agency reported that during his meeting with Kushner, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had praised the role the UAE has played in defending Arab and Islamic interests.

In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Kushner discussed the need for the Palestinians and the Israelis to resume negotiations and reach a lasting peace, state news agency SPA reported.

While no further officials made statements that suggested they would soon recognise Israel, in remarks reported by the UAE state news agency WAM, Kushner suggested other Arab states could follow quickly.

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Asked when the next would normalise ties with Israel, he was quoted as saying: “Let’s hope it’s months.”

Saudi Arabia allowed the El Al charter flight carrying Kushner and the Israelis to use its airspace, in spite of its public resistance to normalisation.

United States presidential adviser Jared Kushner speaks near head of Israel”s National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat at Abu Dhabi airport following the arrival of the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates [Karim Sahib/AFP]

‘Treachery’
There are overlapping regional interests between Israel and Gulf Arab states, which are mainly ruled by Sunni Muslim monarchs who consider their biggest foe to be Shia Iran.

Israel has long held out the promise that their common enemy could bring them together, in spite of regional opposition to Israeli expansion on the occupied Palestinian territories.

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Iran’s derisive comments were not limited to Twitter. In a fiery speech on Tuesday, Khamenei said: “The Emiratis will be disgraced forever for this treachery against the Islamic world, Arab nations and Palestine.

“The UAE, along with Israelis and evil Americans like the Jewish member of Trump’s family, are working together against the interests of the Islamic world,” Khamenei said, referring to Kushner, who is Jewish.

Asked about Khamenei’s remarks, UAE Foreign Ministry official Jamal al-Musharakh told reporters in Abu Dhabi: “The path to peace and prosperity is not paved with incitement and hate speech.”

Israeli officials have played up the economic benefits of the UAE deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said representatives of the two countries had signed an agreement on cooperation in financial services.

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The state-run Abu Dhabi Investment Office and Invest in Israel, part of Israel’s economy ministry, issued a joint statement saying they had agreed to set out a plan to establish formal cooperation.

The Gulf state’s biggest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank, later said it would open discussions with Israel lenders Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi.

Amid the historic normalisation talks, Kushner spent a morning meeting UAE military officials at an Abu Dhabi airbase that houses US military F-35 jets, advanced stealth aircraft that the Gulf state has long sought to buy despite Israeli objections.

The UAE has said normalisation should remove any hurdle blocking the sale. Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel still opposes selling the jets to the UAE.


#Newsworthy…

[Iran] UAE double-cross Muslims amid Israeli peace deal – Ali Khamenei

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Supreme Leader says UAE allowed ‘Zionist regime to enter region and forgot Palestine’ by normalising Israel ties.


The United Arab Emirates has betrayed the Islamic world and the Palestinians by reaching a deal towards normalising ties with Israel, Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech.

“Of course, the UAE’s betrayal will not last long, but this stigma will always be remembered. They allowed the Zionist regime to enter the region and forgot Palestine,” Khamenei said on Tuesday.

“The Emiratis will be disgraced forever… I hope they wake up and compensate for what they did.”

Iranian authorities have harshly criticised the United States-brokered deal between the UAE and Tehran’s longtime foe Israel, with some officials warning that the UAE and Israel fostering closer ties risks conflagration in the Middle East.

Israel and the UAE expect economic benefits from the deal, the first such accommodation between an Arab country and Israel in more than 20 years, which was forged largely through shared distrust of regional foe, Iran.

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Palestinians were dismayed by the UAE’s move, worried it would weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with the Arab countries.

Emirati officials have attempted to spin this agreement as being struck in return for Israel suspending its plan to annex large parts of the illegally occupied West Bank, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said annexation was only temporarily off the table.

‘The Emiratis will be disgraced forever… I hope they wake up and compensate for what they did,’ Khamenei said [AP Photo]

Economic ties
On Saturday, the UAE announced it was scrapping its economic boycott of Israel, with officials from the two countries saying they are looking at cooperation in defence, medicine, agriculture, tourism and technology as part of the deal.

On Monday, the first direct flight by Israel’s flagship carrier El Al landed in Abu Dhabi, carrying US and Israeli officials including President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

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The UAE is the third Arab nation after Egypt and Jordan to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Unlike the two other countries, the Gulf state does not share a border with Israel.

In recent years, the UAE has held quiet talks with Israel and allowed Israelis with second passports into the country for trade and talks.

The Trump administration has tried to coax other Arab countries to engage with Israel. Israeli officials have publicly mentioned Oman, Bahrain and Sudan as countries who may follow suit.

But in a statement earlier this month, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that his government had no mandate to normalise ties with Israel at this time.

SOURCE: Noble Reporters Media, News Agencies


#Newsworthy…

King Salman of Saudi Arabia sacks Yemen forces commander.

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Royal decree refers Prince Fahd, his son and four military officers to the anti-graft watchdog for investigation.


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has sacked two royals over corruption allegations and referred them to the anti-graft watchdog for an investigation, according to state media.

In a royal decree issued early on Tuesday, King Salman removed Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as commander of joint forces in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, and relieved his son Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd of his post as deputy governor of al-Jouf region.

The decision was based on a missive from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to Nazaha, the anti-corruption committee, to investigate “suspicious financial transactions at the defence ministry”.

Four other military officers were also placed under investigation.

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The announcement marks the latest government crackdown on what officials say is endemic corruption in the kingdom.

MBS, after becoming heir to the throne in 2017 in a palace coup, launched an anti-corruption campaign that saw scores of royals, ministers and businessmen detained in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Most were released after reaching undisclosed settlements with the state.

While the crown prince has made fighting corruption a pillar of his reforms, critics say he is moving to sideline rivals to his eventual succession to the throne, take control of the country’s security apparatus and crack down on dissent.

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Authorities wound down the Ritz campaign after 15 months but said the government would continue to go after graft by state employees.

Lieutenant General Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, centre right, was the commander of the Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen [File: Fayez Nureldine/AFP]

In March, authorities arrested nearly 300 government officials, including military and security officers, on charges involving bribery and exploiting public office. Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over the arrests, warning of possible “unfair legal proceedings” in an opaque judicial system.

The crackdown coincided with the arrest of Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a brother of King Salman, and the monarch’s nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was previously crown prince.

Family members of Saad al-Jabri, a former top intelligence agent and aide to bin Nayef, have also been swept up in the campaign. Al-Jabri, who lives in exile in Canada, recently filed a lawsuit in the United States accusing MBS of sending a hit squad in 2018 to assassinate him.

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Prince Fahd, the royal sacked on Tuesday, was commander of the Royal Saudi Ground Forces, paratroopers units and special forces before he became commander of joint forces in the coalition, according to Saudi daily Arab News.

His father was a former deputy minister of defence.

The king’s decree said the crown prince designated Lieutenant General Mutlaq bin Salim bin Mutlaq al-Azima to replace Prince Fahd.

The coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that ousted the Saudi-backed government from power in Sanaa. The conflict, seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been in military stalemate for years.


Happy New Month From Noble Reporters Media •



#Newsworthy…

After Peace Talk: Plane with Israeli, United States officials lands UAE.

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High-level delegations flew from Israel to the UAE to cement the ‘normalisation’ deal.


High-level delegations from Israel and the US have arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), via the first-ever commercial flight between the Middle Eastern nations, to put final touches on a controversial pact establishing open relations.

Top aides to US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were on board the direct flight from Tel Aviv to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Israel’s flag carrier El Al on Monday.

Flight LY971 flew over Saudi Arabia after Riyadh agreed to the Israeli request on Sunday – also a first.

The plane carrying the US and Israeli delegations to Abu Dhabi has the word “peace” written on it in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

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It is also named after Kiryat Gat, a Jewish settlement built on the remains of two ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages, Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja.

Announced on August 13, the “normalisation” deal is the first such accommodation between an Arab country and Israel in more than 20 years and was catalysed largely by shared fears of Iran.

Palestinians were dismayed by the UAE’s move, worried it would weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.

The Arabic, English and Hebrew word for ‘peace’ is seen on the Israeli flag carrier El Al’s aircraft on Monday [Christopher Pike/Reuters]

‘Historic flight’

Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien head the US delegation. The Israeli team is led by O’Brien’s counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Kushner voiced hope for a more peaceful era in the region.

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“While this is a historic flight, we hope that it will start an even more historic journey in the Middle East and beyond,” Kushner said before boarding the El Al aircraft.

Officials will explore bilateral cooperation in areas such as commerce and tourism, and Israeli defence envoys are due to visit the UAE separately.

Israeli officials hope the two-day trip will produce a date for a Washington signing ceremony, perhaps as early as September, between Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

That could give Trump a foreign policy boost ahead of his re-election bid in November.

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In Jerusalem on Sunday, Kushner called the UAE-Israel deal a “giant step forward”.

“To have played a role in its creation, and I say this as the grandson of two Holocaust survivors, it means more to me and to my family that I can ever express,” Kushner said.

The Trump administration has tried to coax other Arab countries concerned about Iran to engage with Israel. The most powerful of those, Saudi Arabia, has signalled that it is not ready.

But in what could presage a more relaxed posture by Riyadh, the El Al plane will be allowed to overfly Saudi territory to cut flight time.

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On Sunday, Israeli TV channel Kan reported there was Israeli concern that Riyadh may revoke permission to use Saudi airspace at the last moment. If the flight is allowed, it would mark the first time an Israeli commercial plane uses Saudi territory for an overflight. There was no comment from Saudi officials.

‘Soon follow’
O’Brien said on Sunday more Arab and Muslim countries were likely to follow Abu Dhabi’s move.

“We believe that other Arab and Muslim countries will soon follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead and normalise relations with Israel,” O’Brien told reporters after talks at Netanyahu’s residence.

He did not name the states, but Israeli officials have publicly mentioned Oman, Bahrain and Sudan.

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Recent news reports suggested Morocco may also be considering a similar agreement with Israel in exchange for military and economic aid.

However, Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine el-Othmani said last week “we refuse any normalisation with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people”.

Palestinians have condemned the UAE’s move as an abandonment of a policy of linking official relations with Israel to the achievement of Palestinian statehood in territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said Kushner and his team were “scrambling to convince as many Arab and Muslim leaders as possible” to give Trump an election boost.

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“They will be a prop at the backdrop of a meaningless spectacle for a ridiculous agreement that will not bring peace to the region,” she said.

The UAE-Israel agreement hit an immediate speed bump after it was announced, as contradictory comments on the planned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank and Jordan Valley were made.

In spite of earlier comments by the UAE and a joint statement by the three countries that indicated the annexation plan would be “suspended”, senior UAE official Omar Ghobash, has admitted his government did not “have any guarantees as such” that Israel would not annex occupied Palestinian territory in the future.

Kushner has said as part of the Israeli-UAE deal that the United States will not consent to Israeli annexation for “some time”.

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Netanyahu, meanwhile, cast the annexation plan – already dogged by disagreements within his governing coalition on the proposed timing – as temporarily on hold. But Israeli officials have signalled they want approval from Israel’s main ally – the US – first.

Weapons sales
The Israel-UAE accord also faces another problem: a possible sale of stealth F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi that could challenge the Israeli technological edge in the Middle East.

Netanyahu has denied reports the UAE deal hinges on the sale of F-35s to the Emirates, saying he opposes a move that could reduce Israel’s military advantage.

“This deal did not include Israel’s acceptance of any arms deal,” the Israeli leader said last week.

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Ever since the 1960s, the US has guaranteed to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region.

The policy was enhanced two years ago with a law that Washington must ensure, when selling weapons to another country in the Middle East, that Israel retains the ability to defend itself if the arms were to fall into the wrong hands.

Israel has already received a first consignment of American F-35s, a fighter also coveted by other Gulf powers.

Yoel Guzansky, a senior analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, told AFP there is no doubt of the importance of the F-35s.

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“I absolutely think that without the F-35, the possibility of buying it, they [the Emiratis] wouldn’t sign the agreement,” said Guzansky. “This is a big hurdle to the fulfilment of the agreement.”

Guzansky noted before Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979, the US sold Turkey and Iran sophisticated weaponry, “and now these countries are hostile towards Israel”.

But some analysts say a deal can be struck to the satisfaction of both Israel and the UAE, and ultimately Saudi Arabia, a longtime customer of US armaments.

“Although this is not really public, from what I understand arrangements are being made that the version that the Arab country gets is not the absolute latest version,” Joshua Teitelbaum, a Gulf specialist at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University told AFP.

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Economic ties
On Saturday, the UAE announced it was scrapping its economic boycott against Israel. Officials from the two countries have said they are looking at cooperation in defence, medicine, agriculture, tourism and technology.

Netanyahu told reporters abolishing “the anachronistic boycott” opened the door for “unbridled” trade, tourism and investment.

Statements issued by the UAE and Israel on Sunday said the UAE minister of state and Israel’s agriculture minister had spoken by phone and “pledged to collaborate on projects that address food and water security”.

The UAE, a desert state, relies on imports for about 80 percent of its food, and has heavily encouraged investment in agricultural technology and farmland abroad in recent years.

Israel and the UAE say they want to promote trade – especially the sale of Emirati oil to Israel and Israeli technology to the UAE – establish direct air links, and boost tourism.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Sudan govt signs peace deal with Darfur Rebels.

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Agreement provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and integration of their fighters into the national army.


Sudan’s government and the main rebel alliance agreed on a peace deal on Monday to end 17 years of conflict.

The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel groups from the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, signed the peace agreement at a ceremony in Juba, capital of neighbouring South Sudan, which has hosted and helped mediate the long-running talks since late 2019.

The final agreement covers key issues around security, land ownership, transitional justice, power sharing, and the return of people who fled their homes because of war.

It also provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and the integration of their fighters into the national army.

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The deal is a significant step in the transitional leadership’s goal of resolving multiple, deep-rooted civil conflicts.

About 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms there in 2003, according to the United Nations.

Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several ministers flew to Juba on Sunday, the official news agency SUNA reported, where he met South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

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Hamdok said finding a deal had taken longer than first hoped after an initial agreement in September 2019.

The rebel forces took up arms against what they said was the economic and political marginalisation by the government in Khartoum.

They are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that long railed against Arab domination of successive governments in Khartoum, including that of toppled strongman, Omar al-Bashir.

The rebel groups that signed the agreement include the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Minni Minawi’s Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), both of the western region of Darfur, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Malik Agar, present in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: First ever Israeli plane heads to UAE after peace talk.

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The El Al aircraft will carry US and Israeli officials to the United Arab Emirates to cement the ‘normalisation’ deal.


High-level delegations are flying from Israel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the first-ever commercial flight between the Middle Eastern nations to put final touches on a controversial pact establishing open relations.

Top aides to US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be on board the direct flight from Tel Aviv to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Israel’s flag carrier El Al on Monday.

Flight LY971 is expected to take off at 10:30am and is set to fly over Saudi Arabia after Riyadh agreed to the Israeli request on Sunday – also a first.

The plane carrying the US and Israeli delegations to Abu Dhabi has the word “peace” written on it in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

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It is also named after Kiryat Gat, a Jewish settlement built on the remains of two ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages, Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja.

Announced on August 13, the “normalisation” deal is the first such accommodation between an Arab country and Israel in more than 20 years and was catalysed largely by shared fears of Iran.

Palestinians were dismayed by the UAE’s move, worried it would weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.

‘Giant step’

Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien head the US delegation. The Israeli team is led by O’Brien’s counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat.

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Officials will explore bilateral cooperation in areas such as commerce and tourism, and Israeli defence envoys are due to visit the UAE separately.

Israeli officials hope the two-day trip will produce a date for a Washington signing ceremony, perhaps as early as September, between Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

That could give Trump a foreign policy boost ahead of his re-election bid in November.

In Jerusalem on Sunday, Kushner called the UAE-Israel deal a “giant step forward”.

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“To have played a role in its creation, and I say this as the grandson of two Holocaust survivors, it means more to me and to my family that I can ever express,” Kushner said.

The Trump administration has tried to coax other Arab countries concerned about Iran to engage with Israel. The most powerful of those, Saudi Arabia, has signalled that it is not ready.

But in what could presage a more relaxed posture by Riyadh, the El Al plane will be allowed to overfly Saudi territory to cut flight time.

On Sunday, Israeli TV channel Kan reported there was Israeli concern that Riyadh may revoke permission to use Saudi airspace at the last moment. If the flight is allowed, it would mark the first time an Israeli commercial plane uses Saudi territory for an overflight. There was no comment from Saudi officials.

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‘Soon follow’
O’Brien said on Sunday more Arab and Muslim countries were likely to follow Abu Dhabi’s move.

“We believe that other Arab and Muslim countries will soon follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead and normalise relations with Israel,” O’Brien told reporters after talks at Netanyahu’s residence.

He did not name the states, but Israeli officials have publicly mentioned Oman, Bahrain and Sudan.

Recent news reports suggested Morocco may also be considering a similar agreement with Israel in exchange for military and economic aid.

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However, Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine el-Othmani said last week “we refuse any normalisation with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people”.

Palestinians have condemned the UAE’s move as an abandonment of a policy of linking official relations with Israel to the achievement of Palestinian statehood in territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said Kushner and his team were “scrambling to convince as many Arab and Muslim leaders as possible” to give Trump an election boost.

“They will be a prop at the backdrop of a meaningless spectacle for a ridiculous agreement that will not bring peace to the region,” she said.

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The UAE-Israel agreement hit an immediate speed bump after it was announced, as contradictory comments on the planned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank and Jordan Valley were made.

In spite of earlier comments by the UAE and a joint statement by the three countries that indicated the annexation plan would be “suspended”, senior UAE official Omar Ghobash, has admitted his government did not “have any guarantees as such” that Israel would not annex occupied Palestinian territory in the future.

Kushner has said as part of the Israeli-UAE deal that the United States will not consent to Israeli annexation for “some time”.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, cast the annexation plan – already dogged by disagreements within his governing coalition on the proposed timing – as temporarily on hold. But Israeli officials have signalled they want approval from Israel’s main ally – the US – first.

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Weapons sales
The Israel-UAE accord also faces another problem: a possible sale of stealth F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi that could challenge the Israeli technological edge in the Middle East.

Netanyahu has denied reports the UAE deal hinges on the sale of F-35s to the Emirates, saying he opposes a move that could reduce Israel’s military advantage.

“This deal did not include Israel’s acceptance of any arms deal,” the Israeli leader said last week.

Ever since the 1960s, the US has guaranteed to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region.

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The policy was enhanced two years ago with a law that Washington must ensure, when selling weapons to another country in the Middle East, that Israel retains the ability to defend itself if the arms were to fall into the wrong hands.

Israel has already received a first consignment of American F-35s, a fighter also coveted by other Gulf powers.

Yoel Guzansky, a senior analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, told AFP there is no doubt of the importance of the F-35s.

“I absolutely think that without the F-35, the possibility of buying it, they [the Emiratis] wouldn’t sign the agreement,” said Guzansky. “This is a big hurdle to the fulfilment of the agreement.”

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Guzansky noted before Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979, the US sold Turkey and Iran sophisticated weaponry, “and now these countries are hostile towards Israel”.

But some analysts say a deal can be struck to the satisfaction of both Israel and the UAE, and ultimately Saudi Arabia, a longtime customer of US armaments.

“Although this is not really public, from what I understand arrangements are being made that the version that the Arab country gets is not the absolute latest version,” Joshua Teitelbaum, a Gulf specialist at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University told AFP.

Economic ties
On Saturday, the UAE announced it was scrapping its economic boycott against Israel. Officials from the two countries have said they are looking at cooperation in defence, medicine, agriculture, tourism and technology.

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Netanyahu told reporters abolishing “the anachronistic boycott” opened the door for “unbridled” trade, tourism and investment.

Statements issued by the UAE and Israel on Sunday said the UAE minister of state and Israel’s agriculture minister had spoken by phone and “pledged to collaborate on projects that address food and water security”.

The UAE, a desert state, relies on imports for about 80 percent of its food, and has heavily encouraged investment in agricultural technology and farmland abroad in recent years.

Israel and the UAE say they want to promote trade – especially the sale of Emirati oil to Israel and Israeli technology to the UAE – establish direct air links, and boost tourism.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: 252 Nigerians return from UAE.

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More Nigerians stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have continued to return home following the evacuation of 252 persons from the Arab country on Saturday.

Disclosing this in a tweet on its official handle, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said the evacuees landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via an Emirates Airline flight.

“Out of this number,” NIDCOM said, “180 of them had their tickets paid for by the UAE govt, for those who claimed they couldn’t afford a return ticket.

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“In total, 18 flights have so far evacuated 4,984 Nigerians from Dubai. Out of which the UAE government paid for 517 Nigerians on 3 Fly Dubai flights and 380 Nigerians on Emirates Airline.”

More evacuees – 174 – are expected to return to the country from the UAE on the 25th of August, 2020, according to the agency, with their flight paid for by the government of the Asian nation.

“This will bring the total number of Nigerians evacuated gratis by Dubai authorities to 1,071,” the statement added.

All evacuees, prior to their departure, NIDCOM said, had tested negative to COVID-19 but will be undergoing self-isolation in line with guidelines set by the Federal Government and other relevant health agencies.

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The UAE is one of the countries where a good number of Nigerians have been repatriated since the outbreak of the pandemic halted international flights.

On August 12th, two hundred and ninety-two Nigerians returned from the country.

Ending Evacuation
During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday, August 13th, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha had, however, said evacuation flights would end on the 25th of the month.

He noted that the decision was to enable international airline operators to prepare for the resumption of international flights which was halted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


#Newsworthy…

Mike Pompeo set for tour amid UAE-Israel deal

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United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due in Jerusalem on Monday to start a tour focused on Israel’s normalising of ties with the UAE and pushing other Arab states to follow suit.

After meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he is set to visit senior figures in Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the State Department said Sunday.

Israel had previously only signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, two neighbours with which it had technically been at war, unlike the United Arab Emirates.

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Following the US-sponsored deal announced on August 13, the new partners say they want to promote trade, especially the sale of Emirati oil to Israel and Israeli technology to the Emirates, as well as boosting tourism by establishing direct air links.

Key to that plan would be persuading Saudi Arabia to open its airspace, between Israel and the Gulf, to Israeli commercial airlines.

During his visit, Pompeo will “discuss regional security issues related to Iran’s malicious influence (and) establishing and deepening Israel’s relationships in the region,” the State Department said in a statement.

President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, announced in January, saw cooperation between Israel and those Arab countries who, like Israel, see Iran as their main foe.

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It also gave the Jewish state a green light to annex parts of the West Bank — something Israel committed to “suspending” under the UAE deal, without saying for how long.

The Palestinians have slammed the UAE’s move as a “stab in the back” while their own conflict with the Jewish state remains unresolved.

But the UAE ambassador to Washington, writing on the front page of Israel’s top-selling daily, said closer ties would benefit everybody.

“They will help move the region beyond the ugly legacy of hostility and conflicts, towards a destiny of hope, peace and prosperity,” he wrote in Yediot Aharonot’s weekend edition.

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– F-35 in the crosshairs –

Tel Aviv daily Israel Hayom, a staunch backer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote Sunday that direct talks between the sides on the wording of the deal were close to starting and “a full agreement could be reached within a month.”

A signing ceremony is set to be held at the White House within that timeframe, the paper wrote.

In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Reports that the agreement hinges on the sale of US F-35 Stealth jets to the Emirates have been vigorously denied by Netanyahu, who says he opposes the move as it could reduce Israel’s regional strategic edge.

“The Emiratis are saying there was a promise there, the Israelis are saying no,” said Joshua Teitelbaum, professor in the department of Middle Eastern studies at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv.

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Historically, Israel (which has F-35s) has opposed the sale of advanced weaponry to other Middle East states, even Jordan and Egypt with which it has peace treaties.

But Teitelbaum said that in the past such objections have been finessed, citing the US sale to Israel and Saudi Arabia of F-15 fighters.

“From what I understand arrangements are made that the version that the Arab country gets is not the absolute latest version,” he told AFP.

“Israel is allowed to put certain modifications in the software that allow it to maintain its edge.”

There can also be cost advantages as a sweetener, he said.

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“The Israeli F-15s and the Saudi F-15s were made in the same factory” in the US, he went on.

“The fact that Israel gave its wink to the Saudi F-15s allowed the actual price to be lowered for the Israelis, because it allowed the assembly line to run (longer) at that factory.”

– Bahrain, Oman, Sudan? –

The surprise announcement of the Israel-Emirati pact sparked huge speculation on who might be next, with frequent mentions of Bahrain and Sudan, which is turning its back on the Omar al-Bashir era.

Israel remains technically at war with Sudan, which for years supported hardline Islamist forces.

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Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman was fired last week after he made allegedly unauthorised comments indicating contact had been made with Israel regarding normalising ties.

In this file photo taken on February 9, 2020, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP.

But the State Department said Pompeo would meet Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok during his tour, to “express support for deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship”,

He will also meet Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa before meeting UAE foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to discuss the Israel deal, it said.

Saudi Arabia, in keeping with decades of policy by the majority of Arab states, has said it will not follow the UAE’s example until Israel has signed a peace deal with the Palestinians.


#Newsworthy…

Aisha Buhari returns from UAE – request better Hospitals in Nigeria.

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Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, on Saturday announced her return from medical treatment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), while calling for healthcare providers to improve the capacity of the country’s health sector and reduce foreign medical trips.

In a statement signed by her and obtained by Noble Reporters Media, the First Lady said healthcare providers should take advantage of the Federal Government’s N100bn credit support for the health sector in order to ramp up capacity.

Recall, Noble Reporters Media had earlier reported Mrs. Buhari’s exit from the country on August 8, although her office did not confirm the news at the time.

In her Saturday statement, Mrs Buhari thanked Nigerians for their prayers and well-wishes and also extended gratitude to the men and women of the Nigerian Airforce who facilitated her journey back to Nigeria.

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READ MRS BUHARI’S FULL STATEMENT:

I want to use this opportunity to thank all Nigerians for their prayers and well wishes while I was away for medical treatment in the United Arabs Emirates (UAE). I am well now and fully recovered and had since returned back home, Nigeria.

On our way back, the Nigerian Airforce Flight encountered a violent clear air turbulence which was navigated safely and professionally by the Captain and crew of the Flight.

I want to commend and appreciate the courage and professionalism of the Captain and his crew, the wonderful gallant service men and women of the entire Nigerian Airforce for their dedication to duty and the quality of maintainance of its Fleet.

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I recall hosting the private healthcare Providers earlier in the year and we had a very productive engagement where the issue of building the capacity of Nigeria health sector was the major focus, and funding was discovered to be the major challenge.

I therefore call on the healthcare providers to take the advantage of the Federal Government’s initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guidelines for the operation of NGN100 Billion Credit Support for the Healthcare Sector as was released recently contained in a circular dated March 25, 2020 to the Commercial Banks. This will no doubt help in building and expanding the capacity of the Nigerian health sector and ultimately reduce medical trips and tourism outside the Country.

Once again, I thank our frontline workers, and all Nigerians for their steadfast as we navigate the challenges facing the entire world.

Aisha Muhammadu Buhari
First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria
August 22, 2020


#Newsworthy…

Storyline: UAE, Israeli in mutual agreement to research COVID-19

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Firms from the United Arab Emirates and Israel have signed an agreement to jointly develop research and studies on the novel coronavirus, the UAE’s state WAM agency reported.

The business deal comes days after a surprise political agreement between the UAE and Israel to normalise relations, a historic shift which will make the Gulf state only the third Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

The UAE’s APEX National Investment and Israel’s TeraGroup signed the “strategic commercial agreement” late Saturday in Abu Dhabi, WAM said in a statement.

“We are delighted with this cooperation with TeraGroup, which is considered the first business to inaugurate trade, economy and effective partnerships between the Emirati and Israeli business sectors,” APEX chairman Khalifa Yousef Khouri said.

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APEX is an investment company with a particular focus on the healthcare sector.

The deal would be “serving humanity by strengthening research and studies on the novel coronavirus,” Khouri added.

The two companies hope to develop a rapid test for coronavirus.

“We are thrilled with our agreement with APEX National Investment, and hope that we will achieve the objectives outlined in this agreement, which in turn will benefit everyone economically,” TeraGroup chairman Oren Sadiv said, according to WAM.

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Last Thursday the UAE and Israel agreed the US-brokered deal to establish full diplomatic ties.

Under that agreement, Israel pledged to suspend its planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, a concession welcomed by European and some pro-Western Arab governments as a boost for hopes of peace.

However, before the political deal, two Israeli defence companies last month signed an agreement with an Emirati company to collaborate on the development of a non-invasive coronavirus screening test.

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the country’s largest aerospace and defence firm, as well as the government’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, signed a memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 in July.


#Newsworthy…

Storyline: 170 Nigerians arrives Lagos airport from UAE.

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One hundred and seventy Nigerians have returned from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, taking the number of evacuees from the Arab nation to over 3,000.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this in a tweet via its official handle on Friday.

It explained that the evacuees arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on board the Fly Dubai airlines.

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According to the agency, the returnees who arrived on Friday night came on board one of three free flights offered by the UAE government.

The UAE government offered the gesture to Nigerians whose documentation expired since March 1 and were given till August 17 to leave the country.

All evacuees tested negative to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and are now on a mandatory 14-day self-isolation as part of the guidelines stipulated by the Presidential Task Force.

This development comes three days after 292 more Nigerians were evacuated from the UAE.

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On Thursday, NIDCOM said 175 Nigerians returned from Uganda.

As at June 2020, the Federal Government said it had spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians from overseas.

During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on April, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had directed all Nigerians interested in returning to the country to work with Nigeria’s embassies and high commissions where they are.

“What is important to get out to all Nigerians is that their engagement and communication should be with the embassies, high commissions and not with any other parallel agency, department of government or anything like that.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted regular daily activities in several countries across the world, leaving millions of people stranded in foreign nations.

Against the backdrop of the outbreak, many countries initiated the process of evacuating their citizens back home.

Nigeria is not left out as the Federal Government has facilitated the repatriation of thousands of its citizens stranded abroad.

Among the nations where Nigerians have been brought back home include the United States, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Sudan, France, Ethiopia, and several others.


#Newsworthy…