The Knesset approved on Thursday night, October 15, Israel’s US-sponsored normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by an overwhelming majority, all but ensuring that it will be ratified in the near future.
Eighty lawmakers voted in favor of the agreement, including many MKs from the opposition. Only 13 parliamentarians — all from Joint List — voted against the agreement, criticizing it as a scheme to undermine the Palestinian people.
There were no abstentions, but 27 MKs did not participate in the vote. MK Moshe Ya’alon, Netanyahu’s former defense minister, boycotted the vote to protest what he said was a failure to present the agreement in full to lawmakers. (The US and the UAE are expected to sign an arms deal alongside the Israel-UAE normalization agreement in the next few weeks that will see Washington supply the Gulf state with, among other things, advanced F-35 stealth fighters.)
The vote took place after nearly nine hours of an at times stormy debate, during which more than 100 ministers and MKs spoke. Far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the plenary twice — at its start at 11:00 am, and right before the vote some minutes after 8:00 pm — hailing the agreement as a “paradigm shift in the Arab world’s approach to Israel.” “Since the beginning of Zionism, one of our hands has been holding a weapon in defense and the other hand was stretched out to everyone who wants peace,” he declared in his first speech.
The Joint List stated, “We emphasize the right of the Arab public in Israel to develop and maintain relations with the Arab world, but we oppose President Trump’s Deal of the Century, which is mentioned in the introduction to the agreement brought to a vote in the Knesset.”
The Joint List alleged that the US-formulated Deal of the Century peace plan is “part of a clear plan to eliminate the rights of the Palestinian people. The purpose of this plan is to perpetuate the occupation and the settlements, and most importantly — to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders with its capital, East Jerusalem.” “We support a just, genuine and comprehensive peace as reflected in the [2002 Saudi Arabian] Arab Peace Initiative, which is based on peace and normalization in exchange for an end to the occupation and a solution to the Palestinian question and not the other way around,” the Joint List stated. “Replacing the principle of peace for territories with Netanyahu’s deceptive vision of peace for peace will bring disaster to the country and all its inhabitants. This approach ensures the continuation of conflict, suffering and bloodshed,” the Joint List concluded.
Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, said the only deal that would bring peace and prosperity to the region would be a peace agreement creating an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. “The deal being signed today is part of Trump’s dangerous vision that … will perpetuate the military regime on millions of Palestinians, the settlements and the outposts,” he wrote in a tweet before the vote.” According to Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) the accord “distances true peace” and “serves the right-wing and racist ideology of Netanyahu and Trump that seeks to violate the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List), said in the plenum, “The agreement between Israel and the UAE is not an agreement of peace but of bloodshed. The Palestinian people are entitled to independence and that is the only way that true peace will prevail.” On Wednesday, October 14, Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) decried the agreement, saying it was “aimed at undermining the struggle to end the occupation and eliminating the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state.”