UAE official: Israel annexation may draw calls for one state
JERUSALEM (AP) - A senior emirate official warned on Wednesday that Israel's planned annexation of parts of the West Bank could result in Arab states demanding a single binational state for Israelis and Palestinians.
The Arab minister's statements to an influential think tank in Washington marked a new setback for Israel's hopes of normalizing relations with the Arab world and intensified the increasingly vocal international opposition to the Israeli annexation plan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in the strategically important Jordan Valley. Such a one-sided move would destroy Palestinian hopes for the creation of a viable independent state.
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Israel conquered the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War and has built dozens of settlements that now house nearly 500,000 Israelis. The Palestinians are looking for the territory as the heartland of their future state. The majority of the international community considers Israel's settlements in the West Bank to be illegal under international law.
Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates foreign minister, told the Washington-based Middle East Institute that his country was committed to dialogue and the two-state solution to the decades-long conflict. But he added, "Ultimately, I personally believe that if we go where we are going today and we lose the opportunity to really implement a two-state solution, we will really be talking about equality and a state."
A binational state made up of Israelis and Palestinians would end Israel's goal of being a democracy with a solid Jewish majority.
Israel has maintained close but secret relationships with several Arab countries, including the UAE, because of their shared concern about Iran. This warming relationship has manifested itself publicly with Israeli ministers visiting the UAE, Israeli athletes participating in sporting events, and some quiet business relationships.
Israel has only formal diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan, both of which have sharply criticized the annexation plan.
On Tuesday, Gargash told the American Jewish Committee that "the UAE is clearly against annexation, as proposed by the current Israeli government."
Last Friday, US Gulf Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba published an editorial in a leading Israeli newspaper warning that the annexation of the Occupied Territory was "stimulating" Israel's efforts to improve relations with Arab countries would.
Also on Wednesday, Gargash said "fewer than 100" Emirati soldiers remain in Yemen amid Saudi Arabia-led war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who hold the capital, Sana'a.
The United Arab Emirates began withdrawing from the years-long war in the poorest nation in the Arab world in July 2019 amid international criticism of a campaign in which airstrikes killed civilians and tortured prisoners.
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