Annexation would destroy Israel-Arab normalization efforts, warns UAE
A senior ambassador from the United Arab Emirates has warned Jerusalem against its plan to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank, saying such a move would destroy any hopes for further rapprochement between the Jewish state and the Arab world.
Yousef Al-Otaiba, who is also minister of state, said that Israel and much of the Arab world have grown closer in recent years and expressed hope that such cooperation in a range wide of areas would deepen in the future.
However, he noted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all settlements across the West Bank starting next month would bury such dreams.
“A unilateral and illegal seizure of Palestinian land defies the international consensus on the Palestinian right to self-determination,” said Al-Otaiba, warning that it “will send shockwaves around the region, especially in Jordan, whose stability — often taken for granted — benefits the entire region, particularly Israel.”
Al-Otaiba was one of the three Arab ambassadors to attend the White House ceremony during which US President Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan for the Middle East.
He said that the UAE had long “promoted engagement and conflict reduction, helped to create incentives-carrots rather than sticks — and focused attention on the collective benefits for all parties.” For instance, Abu Dhabi has listed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and condemned Hamas, he explained.
“We have conducted quiet diplomacy and sent very public signals to help shift the dynamics and promote the possible,” he added before warning that further illegal takeover of Palestinian territory “will certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and with UAE.”
Critics of the recent rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf state have warned of the dangers in seeking normalization with the Zionist state before it agrees to end its occupation of Palestine and conform to international law.
Palestinians view Israel’s normalization within the Middle East as a reward for peace and agreeing to abide by international law to end the conflict. Offering normalization without peace undermines this formula and sends a dangerous message, argue the Palestinians.
Al-Otaiba appeared to suggest that the UEA’s embrace of Israel in recent years may have been misguided. He explained that “normal” relations with Israel which Tel Aviv seeks does not include annexation.
“Annexation is a misguided provocation of another order”, insisted Al-Otaiba, “and continued talk of normalization would be just mistaken hope for better relations with the Arab states”.
“Annexation will also harden Arab views of Israel just when Emirati initiatives have been opening the space for cultural exchange and broader understanding of Israel and Judaism,” Al-Otaiba went on.
“The UAE has encouraged Israelis to think about the upside of more open and normal links. And we have done the same among Emiratis and with Arabs more broadly,” he added.