WASHINGTON : Israel and the UAE have restored diplomatic ties after inking a deal with the US that will see Tel Aviv temporarily shelve its annexation of the West Bank and Jordan Valley to focus on improving relations with its neighbors. At US President Donald Trump’s request, Israel has agreed to suspend its plans to officially engulf large areas of the Palestinian territories and instead focus on “expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to a joint statement released by the three countries on Thursday. Trump announced the “huge breakthrough” on Thursday following a meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.Israel and the UAE will work together on developing a coronavirus vaccine, the statement continued, adding that the two nations would also work with the US to “launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade and security cooperation.” The move represents a surprising reversal of the Netanyahu government’s land-grabbing election rhetoric, which had set the international community on edge given the less-than-legal status of Israel’s occupation of the areas it planned to annex. UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayad confirms in a tweet that Israel has agreed to suspend annexation plans, but says that the countries have only agreed to work toward the normalization of relations. “During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories. The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship,” he further tweeted. Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official said that Israel remains committed to annexing parts of the West Bank. “The Trump administration asked to temporarily suspend the announcement [of applying sovereignty] in order to first implement the historic peace agreement with the UAE,” the official said.
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