Anwar Gargash. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

Arab Responses to Israeli Annexation

Maariv, Israel, June 18

The question of whether or not Israel will annex parts of the West Bank has elicited conflicting responses from political leaders in the Arab Gulf. While some leaders have implied that a unilateral move of this sort would lead to an Arab boycott of Israel, others suggested that Israel has become too strategic of an ally in the Sunni world’s battle against Iran to boycott. Interestingly, most Gulf states seem to fall within the latter camp. While they are concerned about the Palestinian issue, they also recognize that there are bigger items on the table right now. On the one hand, we have people like Yousef Al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, who published a prolific op-ed in Israeli media warning the Israeli public against such a move, and on the other, we have Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, who claims that his country’s relations with Israeli must be protected and maintained. According to Gargash, Israel can be criticized and even reprimanded. However, this doesn’t require far-fetched sanctions like diplomatic boycotts or sanctions. It seems as if the Arab world is experiencing a change in its stance on the Palestinian issue. Years of Palestinian intransigence and refusal to make political concessions have pushed Arab states closer to Israel. Surely, they might not agree with each one of its moves, but they value their strategic relationship with Jerusalem and are thus relegating the importance of the Palestinian issue in their foreign policy. We should all welcome this change. – Uzi Rabi, director of the Dayan Center for Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv University (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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