India on Friday welcomed the normalisation of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) , calling them both “key strategic partners”.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar received a call from UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to explain the decision to establish full ties with Israel, becoming the first Gulf country, and the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to do so.
Also read: The Hindu Explains: Why has UAE signed a peace deal with Israel?
The trilateral agreement called the “Abraham Accords” was signed along with the United States on Thursday, and also commits Israel to suspend its plans for annexation of Palestine majority areas.
“India has consistently supported peace, stability and development in West Asia, which is its extended neighbourhood. In that context, we welcome the full normalization of ties between UAE and Israel,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, briefing journalists on Friday.
Also read: UN chief welcomes Israel, UAE agreement
The MEA did not give any further details of the discussions between Mr. Jaishankar and the UAE Minister. However, Mr. Jaishankar tweeted that he “deeply appreciated” the call, and said that they “discussed the full normalisation of relations between UAE and Israel.”
While the announcement of the agreement has been welcomed by India, it will also mean continuing to walk a balance on West Asian politics. According to experts, the normalisation of ties between Israel and the UAE could be followed by similar actions by other Gulf countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and strong reactions from other countries in a region India has deep stakes in terms of energy supplies and expatriate populations. New Delhi will also need to watch ties with Iran, which has slammed the agreement and will see Arab-Israeli tie-ups as a direct threat to its security.
Officials said New Delhi would also continue to push for a two-state solution as part of a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine. Reaffirming its “traditional support” for the Palestinian cause, the MEA on Friday called for the early resumption of talks for a “two state” solution.
A relief for New Delhi
On that score, the UAE-Israel agreement will come as a relief for New Delhi, which had urged talks in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s earlier plans to declare Israeli sovereignty over about 30% of the West Bank areas on July 1, as had been mandated in U.S. President Trump’s “vision” agreement for the Israel Palestine peace process..
“As a result of the diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the UAE, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” said the joint statement issued by the Israel, UAE and US.
Nevertheless, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has rejected the agreement, calling it a “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause.