Annexation will undo diplomatic progress with Gulf states, UAE ambassador tells Israelis


(JTA) — The United Arab Emirates ambassador to Washington warned Israel not to apply its civilian laws in the West Bank.

“Annexation will certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and with UAE,” Yousef Al Otaiba wrote in an op-ed published Friday in the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot.

Foreign Arab politicians rarely publish opinion articles in the Israeli media.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who counts improved diplomatic relations with Gulf states among his Cabinet’s great achievements, has announced plans to apply civilian law on portions of the West Bank as early as July 1. He has said the action, which some have termed annexation, is connected to the peace deal unveiled by President Donald Trump early this year.

“I was one of three Arab Ambassadors in the East Room of the White House when President Trump unveiled his Middle East peace proposal in January,” wrote Al Otaiba, who is a Cabinet minister in his country. “We have conducted quiet diplomacy and sent very public signals to help shift the dynamics and promote the possible.”

But annexation, as Al Otaiba termed it, “will ignite violence and rouse extremists,” as well as “send shock waves around the region, especially in Jordan whose stability — often taken for granted — benefits the entire region, particularly Israel.”

Advocates of the plan say it doesn’t preclude a future Palestinian state in some West Bank territory while securing Israel’s longest border and settlement blocs.

Recommended from JTA