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UAE ambassador to US urges Israel to Choose Peace over Annexation for Greater Good of the Region

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Yousef Al Otaiba

The UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, in his peace appeal to Israel, urged the country to opt against the annexation plan to maintain peace and stability in the region. In this first-of-its-kind address, UAE which doesn’t have a direct diplomatic ties with Israel extended the option of advancing ties with the Arab World along with devising a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Al Otaiba through his article, published on the front page of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, tired to reach out to the Israeli people and law-makers informing them about the risk the seizing of Palestinian territories’ involved, especially in terms of worsening of relations between Israel and the Arab World.

“A unilateral and deliberate act, annexation is the illegal seizure of Palestinian land. It defies the Arab – and indeed the international – consensus on the Palestinian right to self-determination. It will ignite violence and rouse extremists. It will send shock waves around the region, especially in Jordan whose stability – often taken for granted — benefits the entire region, particularly Israel.” Ambassador Al Otaiba warned.

The UAE ambassador, while suggesting the road map to peace to the warring factions, emphasised that the Emirati government has always opposed violence from either side.

He said, “For years, the UAE has been an unfailing supporter of Middle East peace. We have promoted engagement and conflict reduction, helped to create incentives-carrots rather than sticks – and focused attention on the collective benefits for all parties.” He added, “we designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization, condemned Hamas incitement and denounced Israeli provocations”.

The annexation plan, which was first proposed by US President Donald Trump as part of the Middle East peace plan, was vouched to execution by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As per the plan, Israeli government would initiate the implementation the plan on July 1.

Al Otaiba, contesting the argument that annexation would put the conflict to rest and normalise the Palestinian-Israeli ties, said that there was nothing normal about the annexation, as it would only lead to “a misguided provocation of another order. And continued talk of normalisation would be just mistaken hope for better relations with the Arab states.”

In his op-ed UAE diplomat wrote, “All the time, we remain an ardent advocate for the Palestinian people and a long-time champion of the Arab Peace Initiative.” He added, “All the progress and the attitude shift that you have seen, people being less hostile to Israel, all of that could be undermined by the decision to annex.” As per the 2002, Arab Peace Initiative, the Arab world and Israel negotiated a two-state solution, ensuring peaceful resolution of the decades old conflict. 

Al-Otaiba’s article, which got attention of Israeli and Western public so much that there erupted talks about an alternate peace plan led by the Emirates, successfully conveyed the UAE’s firm belief in diplomacy to promote peace against hate speech and violence. 

UAE ambassador suggested Israeli leaders to give peace a chance as otherwise their populist speeches would bring no permanent solution to the ever burning ‘Palestinian cause’. He said, “I worked closely with the Obama Administration too, including on a plan for confidence building measures that would provide substantial benefits to Israel – improved links with the Arab states – in return for greater autonomy for and investment in Palestine”. The ambassador also clarified that any further step in the direction of the annexation plan would lead to definite and immediate snapping of Israeli (security, economic and cultural) ties with the Arab world and with UAE.

“Our shared interests around climate change, water and food security, technology and advanced science could spur greater innovation and collaboration. As a global airline, logistics, educational, media and cultural hub, the UAE could be an open gateway connecting Israelis to the region and the world.” Al-Otaiba added. 

Despite Al Otaiba’s clear message shared, across Israel and later across the world, to deter Netanyahu’s expansion policy, it was altered in intent and interpretation by some journalist and media outlets financed by the Muslim Brotherhood organizations to defeat the goal Al-Otaiba sought to achieve – peace in the MENA region.

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