UAE: Israel should back off threat to annex occupied West Bank

A senior United Arab Emirates official said on Monday that any unilateral move by Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank would be a serious setback for the Middle East peace process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said cabinet discussions would begin on July 1 on his plan to extend Israeli sovereignty to territory Palestinians want for their own state.

“Continued Israeli talk of annexing Palestinian lands must stop,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a Twitter post.

“Any unilateral Israeli move will be a serious setback for the peace process, undermine Palestinian self determination & constitute a rejection of the international & Arab consensus towards stability & peace.”

The UAE is among the US-allied Gulf states that have recently appeared to be prioritising close ties with the US – which they see as vital to countering Iran’s regional influence – over their traditional policy of unswerving support for the Palestinians.

Gulf states largely voiced support for a so-called “Middle East plan” proposed by US President Donald Trump in January that proposed a demilitarised Palestinian state with borders drawn to meet Israeli security needs, and US recognition of Israeli settlements – illegal under international law – on occupied West Bank land.

The Palestinians, who were not consulted during the writing of the plan, rejected it.

There have been several indicators in recent years that relations between Israel and the UAE were warming up.

Last March, Gargash said Arab states made a “very wrong decision” in the past when they decided to not have formal relations or contact with Israel.

“The strategic shift is needed actually for us to progress on the peace front,” he said.

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