UNITED NATIONS-UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed an agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under which the Jewish state will suspend its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, his spokesman said Thursday.

Israel and the UAE agreed to normalize ties in a landmark deal, only the third such accord TelAviv has struck with an Arab nation -- the other two are: Egypt and Jordan.

A joint statement by US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan suspends Israeli annexation plans over parts of the occupied West Bank, something the secretary-general has consistently called for, Spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a statement. “The secretary-general welcomes this agreement, hoping it will create an opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to re-engage in meaningful negotiations that will realize a two-state solution in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements,” it said.

The statement warned that annexation would effectively close the door for a renewal of negotiations and would destroy the prospect of a viable Palestinian state and the two-state solution.

Peace in the Middle East is more important than ever as the region confronts the grave threats of COVID-19 and radicalization, it said. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a “historic day” and would launch a “new era” for the Arab world and Israel. But the Palestinians strongly rejected the deal, calling it a “betrayal” of their cause, including their claim to Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. The Palestinian leadership voiced its “strong rejection and condemnation” of the deal and announced it would withdraw its envoy from the UAE.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called the agreement an “aggression” against the Palestinian people and a “betrayal” of their cause, including their claim to Jerusalem as capital of their future state.  Hazem Qasem, spokesman for Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said the deal “does not serve the Palestinian cause”, calling it “a reward for the Israeli occupation and crimes”.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter: “May you never experience the agony of having your country stolen; may you never feel the pain of living in captivity under occupation; may you never witness the demolition of your home or murder of your loved ones. May you never be sold out by your ‘friends.’” 

Iran condemned the normalisation of ties between its arch-foe Israel and the United Arab Emirates as “strategic stupidity” and said the Palestinian people will not forgive Abu Dhabi.

The move was an act of “strategic stupidity from Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv which will undoubtedly strengthen the resistance axis in the region,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The oppressed people of Palestine and all the free nations of the world will never forgive the normalising of relations with the criminal Israeli occupation regime and the complicity in its crimes.”

Turkey also condemned a landmark deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates in which the Jewish state pledged to suspend annexation of Palestinian lands as a hypocritical betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

“While betraying the Palestinian cause to serve its narrow interests, the UAE is trying to present this as a kind of act of self-sacrifice for Palestine,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“History and the conscience of the people living in the region will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behaviour.” 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a pious Muslim and strong advocate of Palestinian rights who has long criticised Israeli policies in the West Bank.

He accused several Arab counties in January of committing “treason” by backing US President Donald Trump’s controversial Middle East peace plan.

The foreign ministry said it was “extremely worrying that the UAE, through its unilateral action, put an end to the Arab Peace Initiative developed by the Arab League and backed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation”.

Jordan, which borders the West Bank and Israel, said the outcome of the agreement would depend on Israel’s actions, including its stance on a two-state solution with the Palestinians. 

Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said: “the impact of the deal on peace efforts is linked to the actions Israel will take”.

Oman said it backed the normalisation of ties between the neighbouring United Arab Emirates and Israel, and hoped the move would help achieve a lasting Middle East peace.

A foreign ministry spokesman expressed the sultanate’s “support for the UAE’s decision regarding relations with Israel” according to a statement on Oman’s official news agency.

France also welcomed the deal, stressing the suspension of Israel’s plans to annex swathes of the occupied West Bank.

“The decision taken within this framework by the Israeli authorities to suspend the annexation of Palestinian territories is a positive step, which must become a definitive measure,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.

Germany welcomed the “historic” deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The normalisation of ties between Israel and the UAE “is an important contribution to peace in the region,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.

Maas, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said he had congratulated his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi by phone on “this historic step”. “We hope that this agreement will be the starting point for further positive developments in the region and that it will give fresh momentum to the Middle East peace process,” he added.