The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, has reproached Israel for threatening to annex the West Bank of land Palestinians want for their own state. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said on May 14 that annexing the West Bank was “an opportunity” not to be missed. He further said that on 1 July his cabinet would start drawing up plans of extending Israel’s territory into Palestinian land.
“Continued Israeli talk of annexing Palestinian lands must stop” the senior UAE Minister said “Any unilateral Israeli move will be a serious setback for the peace process, undermine Palestinian self determination & constitute a rejection of the international & Arab consensus towards stability & peace”
Last month similar anger was voiced by Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He said the threats of Israeli annexation “is illegal, undermines opportunities for peace, and contradicts all efforts made by the international community to reach a lasting political solution in accordance with relevant international resolutions”
The Israeli peace plan is the first such plan from Israel in decades. Saudi Arabia rejected the Israeli peace plan on the grounds that the Palestinians were not consulted in the process. The so-called peace plan has also been rejected by the Palestinians and other GCC states along with the vast majority of the Muslim world including Turkey. Some GCC states welcomed the idea of peace talks resuming.
Anwar Gargash has previously welcomed the idea of peace talks and (on condition of Israel accepting Palestinian demands) even warmed to the idea of conditional normalising relations with Israel. The Arab League has twice pushed for the Arab Peace Plan, drawn up in 2002, which would see a proper Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders. The vast majority of the Muslim world, including Pakistan, have said they would normalise relations with Israel if a two-state solution was achieved.
As it stands, the GCC states and the majority of Muslim countries in the world do not recognise Israel as a state and have no diplomatic or economic ties. Turkey, the only Muslim state to have full diplomatic and economic ties with Israel, has even shown anger at Israel’s recent threats calling Jerusalem a “red line”. Jordan and Egypt have existing peace treaties with Israel, yet King Abdullah of Jordan warned last month that threats to annex the Jordan valley and the West Bank could lead to “a massive conflict”.
“The Kingdom’s policy – has been – and remains in support of the Palestinian People, and this has been communicated to the US Administration”– Saudi Arabia
The foreign policy chief for the EU, Mr Josep Borrell also expressed “grave concerns” over Israel’s threats, saying that the EU would reject any unilateral move not agree to with Palestinians. He even suggested the EU could place sanctions on Israel, saying that “steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged”.