Emirati foreign minister condemns Israel’s annexation plans
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Emirati foreign minister condemns Israel’s annexation plans

Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan joins chorus of states warning Israel against applying sovereignty over large parts of West Bank, dismisses claims Gulf states would accept the move

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, center, shares a light moment with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh after the opening session of the Arab Summit in Riyadh, March 28, 2007. (AP Photo/Awad Awad, Pool)
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, center, shares a light moment with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh after the opening session of the Arab Summit in Riyadh, March 28, 2007. (AP Photo/Awad Awad, Pool)

The United Arab Emirates on Sunday joined a growing chorus of states condemning the incoming Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

“This unilateral step is illegal, undermines chances for peace and contradicts all efforts made by the international community to reach a lasting political solution in accordance with relevant international resolutions,” said the Gulf country’s foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Unilaterally applying sovereignty over any part of the West Bank would be illegal, undermine the chances for peace, “and contradict all efforts made by the international community to reach a lasting political solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he added.

In the statement, carried by the state-owned Emirates News Agency, Al Nahyan explicitly dismissed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s often-made claim that the Arab world will ultimately accept annexation.

Such suggestions “contradict the reality of the Arab position, as the Arab consensus is declared and fixed in the decisions issued by the League of Arab States and confirmed in many Arab ministerial meetings,” the UAE’s top diplomat affirmed.

“His Highness affirmed that the path of the peace process in the Middle East, which we all aspire to, is clear and known and established by the international principles agreed upon to resolve the Palestinian issue and end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories,” his statement went on.

The UAE has long been one of the Gulf states advancing increasingly close, but clandestine, ties with Jerusalem. Last week, the Emirati ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Lana Nusseibeh, openly declared that her country was not opposed to cooperation with Israel in the joint global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

In a webinar hosted by the American Jewish Committee, she also congratulated the Jewish state on its recent breakthrough regarding the development of an antibody believed to help cure COVID-19, and hinted briefly at the fact that senior UAE officials recently visited Israel to explore bilateral cooperation in the realm of public health.

By preemptively denouncing Israel’s planned annexation of the Jordan Valley and all settlements across the West Bank, the UAE joined a growing chorus of countries that have warned Jerusalem against such a move.

According to the coalition agreement between the Likud and the Blue and White parties, Netanyahu may advance annexation as early as July 1.

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