Responding to the news that Israel plans to sign an agreement with the UAE that would temporarily “suspend” the Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, the New Israel Fund of Canada (NIFC) released the following statement:

The plans for Israel and the UAE to begin a process of normalization is welcome news for everyone who wants to see a more peaceful Middle East and, in particular, a stable and secure Israel existing in peace and security alongside its neighbours.

While we also welcome news that the Netanyahu government is retreating from plans to carry out a de jure annexation of the West Bank, his statement in announcing the deal – that he still remains committed to carrying out the plan – is cause for concern. It also does not end creeping annexation in the form of continued expansion of West Bank settlements.

The agreement between Israel and the UAE also fails to resolve the moral and political choice that Israelis — and all those who support a democratic Israel — still must make: end the occupation and build a future for an Israel that is just, free, and democratic, or continue to maintain an unjust dual legal system where Palestinians are both separate and unequal.

With the agreement Prime Minister Netanyahu is attempting to sidestep this choice.

Those of us who care about a democratic future for both Israelis and Palestinians know that no deal between Israel and the UAE can obscure the reality of occupation and no Israeli government will escape it.