South Africa’s foreign ministry on Friday weighed in on the United Arab Emirates decision to normalize relations with Israel, in a statement reflecting its long support for Palestinians who overwhelmingly reject the deal and have taken to the streets in protest at the news.
“While the UAE has the sovereign right to set its diplomatic relations with the government of Israel, it is regrettable that it has done so based on yet another agreement related to the fate of the Palestinian people without engaging the people of Palestine,” said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).
The UAE-Israel deal, facilitated in part by the United States, calls for Israel to end West Bank territorial annexation in exchange for the UAE to join Egypt and Jordan in recognizing Israel. But any annexation is already considered a violation of international law honored by most nations and hardly constitutes a diplomatic breakthrough, South Africa said – and based on remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some speculation that it won’t be honored in full.
“Any initiative aimed at a solution to the conflict must take into account the needs and aspirations of the Palestinian people,” the government said.
News of the deal has sparked strong reaction around the world, with Egypt quick to approve and Turkey, which has a presence in Libya within the context of wider regional tensions, condemning the move.
“While pursuing its narrowly defined interests, the UAE has attempted to present its betrayal to the Palestinian cause as an act of altruism. The history and the conscience of the people in the region will never forget or forgive this hypocritical act,” said Turkey’s foreign ministry. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned his nation may cut off ties with the UAE over the decision.