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UAE-Israel direct flight 'painful to watch', says Palestinian PM

Shtayyeh slammed the first-ever direct commercial passenger flight between Israel and UAE [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 August, 2020

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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh criticised the first-ever direct commercial passenger flight between Israel and the UAE, saying it was painful to watch.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh slammed the first-ever direct commercial passenger flight between Israel and the UAE as "very painful", as Monday saw the landing of a Star of David-adorned El Al plane in Abu Dhabi.

The Israeli flag-carrier's flight marked the implementation of the historic US-brokered deal to normalise relations between Israel and the UAE, solidifying the long-clandestine ties between them that have evolved over years of shared enmity toward Iran.

Speaking at the start of the weekly Palestinian cabinet meeting held in Ramallah, Shtayyeh said the deal was "a clear and a blatant violation of the Arab position towards the Arab-Israeli conflict".

"It is very painful for us today when an Israeli plane lands in the Emirates, under the flight name 'Kiryat Gat' - the settlement which was built on the occupied Palestinian lands of the town of Fallujah in which Gamal Abdel Nasser was trapped - in a clear and a blatant violation of the Arab position towards the Arab-Israeli conflict," the Palestinian PM said, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

"On this occasion, we salute the position of some Arab countries against normalisation with Israel, which made [Mike] Pompeo's tour failed to achieve its desired goals, despite the pressures exerted on some Arab countries, " he said.

"We had hoped to see an Emirati plane landing in liberated Jerusalem, but we live in a difficult Arab era," he added.

Read also: Israel-UAE VIP flight passes through Saudi airspace

The UAE has touted the deal as a tool to force Israel into halting its contentious plan to annex parts of the West Bank, land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

The Palestinians, however, have fiercely opposed the normalisation as peeling away one of their few advantages in moribund peace talks with Israel.

Palestinians have held public protests and burned the UAE flag in anger.

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said the UAE-Israel deal went against the position of the Emirati people, and was "in Zionist interests only".

"The UAE's regime insisting in contradicting the people and nation's attitudes and the official consensus against normalisation, the UAE-Israel deal is in Zionist interests only, working against national Arab security and fuelling disagreements in the region," Qassem said.

With the US as matchmaker, Israel and the UAE agreed earlier this month to work toward normalisation, which would make the UAE the third Arab nation to have full relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan.

Unlike those two nations, Israel has never fought a war against the UAE and hopes to have much warmer relations.

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