JERUSALEM

Israeli Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said Sunday that the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank was already suspended before the announcement of a deal to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Presenting the agreement as related to it is more suitable to all Arab countries,” Katz told the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump announced a deal between the UAE and Israel to normalize their relations.

A joint statement by the US, UAE and Israel said the deal includes a halt of the Israeli plans to annex Palestinian land in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, confirmed that his government is committed to carrying out the annexation plan.

The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation cited an Emirati diplomat as saying that Abu Dhabi doesn’t seek to prolong the talks of the normalization agreement.

He said the aim of the talks is to discuss cooperation in the fields of technology, science and economy along with the political engagement and exchanging of embassies.

The chief of the Israeli intelligence is due to visit Abu Dhabi in the coming days to participate in drafting the normalization agreement which will take place in the White House in September, according to the UAE diplomat.

The development marks only the third time an Arab nation has opened full diplomatic ties with Israel, and the Emirates is now the first Gulf Arab state to do so. Other Arab nations with diplomatic ties with Israel are Egypt and Jordan.

Palestinian groups have denounced the new agreement, saying it does nothing to serve the Palestinian cause and ignores the rights of the Palestinian people. The UAE’s peace deal with Israel is a “treacherous stab in the back of the Palestinian people,” Hamas said in a statement.

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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