Israel’s Knesset on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of formally ratifying the country’s historic agreement normalizing diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates.
The vote was held following almost nine hours of debate in the Knesset with over 100 ministers and MKS speaking from the podium. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke twice, once in the morning and again hours later, right before the vote at about 8 p.m.
“This is a day with few like it in the history of the country; a day when a peace agreement with an Arab state is brought for approval by the Knesset,” the prime minister stated. “Many Arab and Muslim countries want to get close to us. They see our military and intelligence, technological and economic power. They are changing their attitude toward us.”
The Joint List, the main Arab-dominated faction in parliament, cast the lone opposing votes Thursday.
Israel and the UAE announced the U.S.-brokered agreement in August, and signed a deal in a White House ceremony last month. Thursday’s approval by the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, which passed in a 80-13 vote, was largely a formality.
The UAE has become just the third Arab country to establish official ties with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan, and the first to do so in a quarter-century. Bahrain is also in the process of formalizing ties with Israel, and the White House has suggested that other Arab countries will follow suit.
The deals reflect a shift in the Middle East as Arab countries’ shared concerns with Israel about Iran outweigh their traditional support for the Palestinians.
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.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)