Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed display their copies of signed agreements while U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as they participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Trump and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed at signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords
Photo: Reuters
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Trump and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed at signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords

Palestinian business leader hopes UAE, Bahrain will press Israel to stop settlements

While Palestinian leaders have called the Arab agreements to normalize relations with Israel a blow to their cause, the chairman of two of the largest Palestinian holding companies reckons they could be used to the advantage of the Palestinians

Reuters |
Published: 10.05.20 , 23:48
A top Palestinian business executive said on Monday that new Gulf Arab ties with Israel, condemned by Palestinian leaders, could also be an opportunity to apply fresh pressure to halt Jewish settlement in occupied land.
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  • Bashar Masri, a Palestinian-American who runs two of the Palestinians' largest holding companies, said the Palestinians must find a way to turn agreements Israel struck last month with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain into "a positive thing for us".
    Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed display their copies of signed agreements while U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as they participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham AccordsBahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed display their copies of signed agreements while U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as they participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords
    Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Trump and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed at signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Under the U.S.-brokered diplomatic push, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
    Palestinian leaders have called Arab agreements to normalize relations with Israel a blow to their quest for an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day-War.
    Masri, 59, said the Palestinian message to the UAE and Bahrain should now be: "Hey, why don't you pressure Israel, who you're talking to, to stop the settlements?".
    Bashar Masri, a prominent Palestinian businessman Bashar Masri, a prominent Palestinian businessman
    Bashar Masri, Palestinian businessman at Rawabi on the West Bank
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "I hope they can turn these agreements to pressure Israel into concessions for the Palestinians," he said.
    But Masri, chairman of Massar International, told Reuters he was uncertain that halting settlement expansion in the West Bank would be a priority for Gulf Arab states that agreed to official ties with Israel in part over shared concern over Iran.
    Israel has hailed ties with the UAE and Bahrain as a major business opportunity, and Masri said Palestinian enterprises would not be inherently opposed to accepting investment from the two Gulf nations.
    President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Palestinian leadership to discuss the United Arab Emirates' deal with Israel to normalize relations,President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Palestinian leadership to discuss the United Arab Emirates' deal with Israel to normalize relations,
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meeting with the Palestinian leadership to discuss United Arab Emirate peace deal with Israel
    (Photo: EPA)
    Massar International oversees and manages more than 30 subsidiaries and investments in finance, tech, agriculture, media and real estate, including Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city in the West Bank.
    Masri said that now that emotions over the deals have calmed down - "we burned the flags" - Palestinians have "no choice but to be optimistic".
    "Our enemies want us to give up hope. If we give up hope, they have exactly what they want, and there will be no Palestine, and no Palestinian people," he said.

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