Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached an historic peace deal on Thursday. The deal will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern nations. The agreement was sealed in a three-way phone call on Thursday between US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, who said in a statement that Israel had agreed to stop annexation and that, in exchange, the UAE and Israel "agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.” The officials described the agreement, which will be known as the Abraham Accords, as the first of its kind since Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994. Our JCRC echoes the sentiments expressed by the Jewish Federations of North America, here.
Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, and other issues. Netanyahu hailed the historic agreement as a “new era of Israeli relations with the Arab world,” and said other deals with Arab countries would follow. Netanyahu further suggested that he would continue working toward expanding Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, but acknowledged that his plans for unilateral annexation or application of soveriegnty—in acquiescence to the new agreement—would be temporarily halted.
Israel launched airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip for the third consecutive night on Friday, according to the military. The government is stepping up its response to a spate of attacks recently launched into Israel. “Over the last week, explosive and arson balloons have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” the army said in a statement. “In response, a short while ago, IDF fighter jets, attack helicopters and tanks struck a number of Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip.” Thursday night, a similar attack caused no reported casualties but was said to have left an unexploded missile inside a UN-run school compound in a refugee camp. In response to the aggression, Israel closed one of its main border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Incendiary balloons and kites from Gaza have sparked over 100 fires across southern Israel just this past week, some causing extensive damage.
On Friday morning, The Health Ministry reported that, as of Thursday, 1,642 people in Israel were infected with coronavirus, with an additional 931 cases reported since midnight. Israel has seen over 90,000 cases since the onset of the pandemic. 655 people have died from the virus, and 375 are currently in serious condition. Due to the announcement of a peace deal with the UAE, the coronavirus cabinet meeting was cut short on Thursday, yet it managed to establish a new set of rules for public gatherings. Other rule changes stipulate that aides for people with disabilities can be considered “family members” and thus escort them; and deliveries can now be brought into the homes of people with physical handicaps. The approval of these decisions will be submitted to the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for approval, and could go into affect as early as Sunday at 2 p.m.
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Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC
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