Palestinians protest as Israel clinches Gulf deals

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) –


Hundreds of Palestinians protested on Tuesday against landmark Israeli normalisation deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, hours ahead of a signing ceremony at the White House.

Clutching Palestinian flags and wearing blue face masks for protection against the novel coronavirus, demonstrators rallied in the cities of Nablus and Hebron in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

A demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, home of the Palestinian Authority, was scheduled for later on Tuesday.

Banners were displayed at the protests, reading "Treason", "No to normalisation with the (Israeli) occupier" and "The agreements of shame".

The decision by the UAE and Bahrain to normalise ties with Israel breaks with decades of consensus within the Arab world that a peace deal with the Palestinians is a prerequisite for establishing relations with the Jewish state.

In Gaza, protesters trampled on and set fire to placards showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and the UAE's Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

"We say to the Bahraini regime and the Emirates that this normalisation is a total betrayal of the Palestinian cause and the hopes of the Arab nation," said Ahmad al-Medalal, an Islamic Jihad official in Gaza.

The imminent signing of normalisation agreements with Israel marks a "black day" for the Arab world, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said Monday.

In recent years Israel and the United States have pressed Gulf states to move forward with establishing relations with the Jewish state, particularly in light of their shared animosity towards Iran.

Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Monday and hailed the "historic" agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.

Israel has previously signed peace deals with just two Arab nations, Egypt and Jordan, in 1979 and 1994, respectively.