Photo Credit: DOD Photo By: U.S. Army Staff Sgt Sun L. Vega
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba with Gen Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

According to Barak Ravid reporting for Axios (Billionaire Haim Saban advised UAE ambassador on Israeli annexation op-ed), Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban assisted in writing and publishing UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al-Otaiba’s Friday’s op-ed in Yedioth Aharonoth (Annexation will be a serious setback for better relations with the Arab world).

Al-Otaiba warned Israeli readers that a Netanyahu attempt to impose Israeli law on Jewish communities in about 30% of Judea and Samaria “will ignite violence and rouse extremists. It will send shock waves around the region, especially in Jordan whose stability – often taken for granted – benefits the entire region, particularly Israel.”


Ravid cites Israeli sources who say Al-Otaiba asked Saban in early June how to best reach Israeli public opinion with a message against the plans for sovereignty, and Saban suggested the message should be in Hebrew and through a major media outlet – namely Yedioth.

Billionaire Haim Saban (r) with Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador Martin Indyk. / U.S. Department of State via Wikimedia

Saban introduced his PR expert Moshe Debi to the ambassador, and Debi took charge of the content and timing of the publication.

Saban, whose wealth is estimated at $3 billion, is a major donor for the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, and sponsors the Saban National Political Leadership Training Seminar. Ravid notes that Saban was one of Hillary Clinton’s main political backers and donors.

According to Ravid, the Netanyahu government was not informed in advance of the publication, while the White House was, and, apparently kept it a secret from Jerusalem. This was planned this as a two-punch operation: following Friday’s op-ed, on Tuesday UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash will speak at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum taking place this week, and will likely repeat his ambassador’s threats.

Also confirmed for the AJC global forum: Benjamin Gantz, Israel’s Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, and MK Merav Michaeli (Labor).

In his op-ed, Ambassador Al-Otaiba lavished promises on Israel, if only it refrained from including close to half a million of its citizens in the protections of Israeli laws:

Annexation will certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and with UAE.

With the region’s two most capable militaries, common concerns about terrorism and aggression, and a deep and long relationship with the United States, the UAE and Israel could form closer and more effective security cooperation.

… The UAE has encouraged Israelis to think about the upside of more open and normal links. And we have done the same among Emiratis and with Arabs more broadly.

For example, Israel has been invited to participate in Dubai’s World Expo now planned for next year. Israeli diplomats have an ongoing presence in Abu Dhabi at the headquarters of the United Nations International Renewable Energy Agency.

Remarkably, the op-ed is not advocating the establishment of a Palestinian State, other than a vague reference to the Palestinian’s right to self-determination. rather it speaks of negotiations to reduce violence – meaning that it cleverly focuses on appealing to the desires and trepidation of secular, center-left Israelis (Yedioth’s readers) without alienating rightwing Israelis. It is a well thought out attack, certain to be picked up by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

It should also be noted that the majority of settlement leaders are opposed to sovereignty if the cost is an israeli commitment to the United States to promote the cause of a Palestinian state.


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