Angry Palestinians in Jerusalem accused the United Arab Emirates of collaborating with Israel and endangering Al Aqsa mosque, as they gathered for prayers Friday the day after the Gulf state's deal with Israel.
Under an agreement brokered by US President Donald Trump, Israel and the UAE announced on Thursday that they will normalise diplomatic ties, brought together by a confluence of interests against Iran.
The deal also envisions giving Muslims greater access to Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque by allowing them to directly fly from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.
A grab from a AFPTV video shows Palestinian protesters tearing apart a portrait of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan on August 14, 2020 at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, during a protest against a US-brokered deal.
This was greeted with dismay by Palestinian worshippers filing into the tree-lined hilltop compound in Jerusalem's walled Old City known as Al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).
"Our brothers in the Emirates put our blessed mosque in the grip of death," said Kamal Attoun, 60, an East Jerusalem Palestinian and Old City merchant.
Palestinians have long sought East Jerusalem, where the Old City is located, as capital of a future state and have looked to Arab nations to defend that stance.
If they normalise ties with Israel, Palestinians fear losing any chance of future sovereignty in the city and guaranteed access to Al Aqsa mosque.
The top Islamic official in Jerusalem, Sheikh Abdul-Azim Salhab of the Islamic Waqf, told Reuters he does "not accept the blessed Al Aqsa mosque to be the subject of political bickering. It is higher than this tug-of-war."
Condemnation also came from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose spokesman on Thursday read out a statement from the leadership on Palestinian television calling the deal a "betrayal of Jerusalem, Al Aqsa and the Palestinian cause". Palestinians across Gaza and the occupied West Bank rallied Friday against the deal.
Protesters in the city of Nablus burned effigies of Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.
Meanwhile, Israel embraced the deal, with the country's biggest-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, calling it a "bold breakthrough". Some analysts said Netanyahu risked angering his supporters by walking back pledges to annex land in the West Bank — territory sought by Palestinians for a state — so as to do a deal with a Gulf country.
Netanyahu, dogged by an ongoing corruption trial and criticised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has hailed the agreement as a personal success in integrating Israel in the Middle East.
On his Arabic-language Twitter account he credited Israel's foreign intelligence service Mossad with helping to clinch the deal.