The United Arab Emirates insists that its agreement to normalize relations with Israel was a means to halt Israel’s plans to annex occupied West Bank land.
Yet this month the UAE is welcoming two of the largest financiers of illegal Israeli settlements to its capital.
Hapoalim will lead an Israeli business delegation to the UAE on 8 September, and Leumi will follow on 14 September.
Hapoalim’s CEO Dov Kotler, who’s leading the first delegation, seeks “to establish economic relations and cooperation between our countries and their financial systems,” Haaretz reported.
This comes after the UAE’s central bank signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel on 1 September for financial cooperation.
The governor of the central bank, Abdulhamid Saeed Alahmadi, signed the agreement with Ronen Peretz, director-general of the Israeli prime minister’s office, in the presence of Israel’s national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat in Abu Dhabi.
The largest bank in the Gulf state, First Abu Dhabi Bank, announced that it will “open discussions” with Hapoalim and Leumi “to establish banking relationships that will strengthen financial and economic cooperation between UAE and Israel.”
Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UAE Central Bank and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) will open discussions with leading financial institutions in Israel, namely Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi.— FAB Connects (@FABConnects) September 1, 2020
Palestine’s BDS National Committee (BNC) condemned First Abu Dhabi Bank for “rushing” to make agreements with Israeli banks.
The group, which leads the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, said it would call for a boycott of the bank if the plan goes ahead.
تحذر اللجنة الوطنية للمقاطعة من هرولة بعض الشركات والبنوك الإماراتية وغيرها لتطبيع العلاقات مع نظيرتها الإسرائيلية، وتخص بالذكر "بنك أبو ظبي الأول"، الذي سارع بعد توقيع اتفاقية العار بين النظام الإماراتي والإسرائيلي للتواصل مع بنوك إسرائيلية لعقد صفقات تعاون معها. pic.twitter.com/XgMZddGVP3— حركة مقاطعة اسرائيل (@BDS_Arabic) September 8, 2020
The BNC says it will “target and call for a boycott of any Emirati, Arab or international company that colludes in implementing the shameful agreement between the UAE and the Israeli regime.”
Financing land theft
Israeli banks’ complicity in settlement construction has landed them on the UN’s database of companies profiting from Israel’s war crimes in occupied territory.
It has also prompted major international financial institutions to divest from Israeli banks.
Earlier this year, Israel was charging towards formal annexation of large parts of the occupied West Bank, but the United States put those plans on hold.
The UAE tried to spin the US-imposed freeze as an achievement for Palestinians in exchange for full diplomatic relations with Israel.
In reality, annexation is only a formal rubber stamp for what Israel has been doing on the ground for decades: stealing land, forcibly displacing Palestinians and building colonies in flagrant breach of international law.
Now, the UAE is not only ignoring Israel’s de facto annexation of occupied West Bank land while feigning opposition to its formalization, but it is seeking business with corporations that finance those crimes.
Several Israeli and Emirati businesses signed agreements in recent weeks.
Israel’s intelligence minister Eli Cohen said trade deals between the two countries are expected to reach $4 billion annually, and would include arms transactions.
The normalization deal dubbed the Abraham Accord was announced last month, making the United Arab Emirates the first Gulf state to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.
A signing ceremony is expected to take place at the White House this month and be followed by an official Emirati delegation taking a trip to Israel, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source.
The UAE laid out the red carpet for the first official Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi last month.
A number of Israeli business jets have arrived in Abu Dhabi since the official visit.
So this Israeli biz landed Abu Dhabi— avi scharf (@avischarf) September 7, 2020
another Israeli landed Dubai
another landed Dubai
ANOTHER Israeli biz heading East over Saudi arabia now after Amman stop
UAE also planning first official visit to Israel on September 22, per @noa_landau
Israel’s national airline El Al flew over Saudi Arabia – with which it has no formal diplomatic relations – on the way to Abu Dhabi, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even made a phone call to the flight while it was in Saudi airspace.
This apparently won’t be the last time the Israeli airline flies Saudi Arabia’s friendly skies.
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia both agreed to allow Israeli flights to travel in their airspace on the way to the United Arab Emirates, significantly reducing travel hours.
US President Donald Trump welcomed the move.
Despite its efforts to curry favor with Israel, the United Arab Emirates has still ended up with egg on its face.
A New York Times report citing unnamed sources revealed last week that Netanyahu had given the green light for the United States to sell F-35 warplanes to the UAE while the normalization agreement was being brokered.
The F-35 is made by US arms giant Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest beneficiaries of US military aid to Israel and a primary focus of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
After the announcement of the deal, Netanyahu and members of his cabinet categorically denied that Israel would give such a green light.
Netanyahu denied the Times report, saying that at no point did he give such consent.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh had called the visit “a clear and a blatant violation of the Arab position toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
But the PA is backing off its criticism in advance of an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Wednesday.
Reuters reported that the Palestinian envoy’s draft resolution “does not include a call to condemn, or act against, the Emirates over the US-brokered deal.”
In contradiction of Shtayyeh’s statement, the draft deems that the Abraham Accord does not “diminish Arab consensus over the Palestinian cause.”
On 23 November 2019, EuroPal Forum and Middle East Monitor co-hosted a conference at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in London on the relations between Europe and Palestine. A first of its kind, the conference brought together individuals at the forefront of discourse on Palestine in
As the European Court of Justice (ECJ) rules that European Union countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, MEMO and EuroPal Forum are hosting a conference to discuss the EU’s position on major issues related to the occupat