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Israel's Netanyahu hails deal with UAE as 'historic'

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump applauds Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they appear together at a joint news conference to discuss a new Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday a U.S.-brokered deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates represented a “historic day” for his country.

The agreement, announced by U.S. President Donald Trump, broke new ground in Israel’s outreach to Gulf Arab countries with a common fear of Iran’s regional influence.

But Israel’s agreement, according to White House officials, to suspend de facto annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank posed a measure of political risk at home for Netanyahu, who had pledged to carry out the step.

“I will make a special announcement at 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) with more details about this historic day for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.

His office had previously said he would hold a news conference at 1600 GMT.

A senior Israeli official said applying Israeli sovereignty to areas of the West Bank - territory Palestinians seek for a state along with Gaza and East Jerusalem - was still on the agenda.

But the official said: “The Trump administration asked us to temporarily suspend the (sovereignty) announcement so that the historic peace agreement with the UAE can be implemented.”

Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Additional reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by Nick Tattersall

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