Arab envoy warns Israelis that annexation threatens warming ties

The West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Efraim on the slopes of the Jordan Valley in February. (photo: Ariel Schalit / Associated Press)
In an op-ed article written by an influential Arab diplomat, he warned that normalization with Israel would not survive a unilateral land grab at the Palestinians’ expense.

By David M. Halbfinger / Ben Hubbard | The New York Times |  Aug 14, 2020

‘Annexation will definitely, and immediately, reverse all of the Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and the United Arab Emirates,’
— Yousef al-Otaiba, the Emirates’ ambassador to the United States

JERUSALEM — In a watershed article in a leading Israeli newspaper, a top diplomat from the United Arab Emirates warned the Israeli public on Friday that unilateral annexation of West Bank territory would endanger Israel’s warming ties with Arab countries.

Writing in Friday’s Yediot Ahronot, Yousef al-Otaiba, the Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, appealed directly to Israelis in Hebrew to deter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from following through on his promise to annex occupied territory as early as next month.

“It’s Either Annexation or Normalization,” the headline over his op-ed declared.

The article rebutted an argument by Mr. Netanyahu that annexing West Bank land that the Palestinians have counted on for a state would not imperil Israel’s chances of forging deeper relations with countries like the Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Netanyahu, echoed by a host of right-wing allies, maintains that Arab countries have too much to gain from Israel — in security, technology and commerce, among other realms — to continue sticking up for the Palestinians.

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