Photo Credit: Moni Shafir/Israel Airport Authority
UAE Ethiad plane in Tel Aviv. June 9, 2020

Israel appeared to rebuff the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) warning against pursuing the US’ Deal of the Century peace plan, which stipulates that Israel’s can declare sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, asserting that the “US Peace Initiative is a starting point to realize” peace in the Middle East.

Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba published an article in Hebrew in the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth, on Friday, warning that an Israeli declaration of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria would be an end to the normalization process between Israel and Arab states in the Middle East. Haim Saban reportedly played a key role in publishing the op-ed.

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Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria would “upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and with the UAE,” the ambassador stated.

Al Otaiba added that the UAE “wanted to speak directly to the Israelis. The message was all the progress that you have seen, and the attitudes that have been changing toward Israel, people becoming more accepting of Israel, and less hostile to Israel, all of that could be undermined by a decision to annex.”

“In the UAE and across much of the Arab world, we would like to believe Israel is an opportunity, not an enemy. We face too many common dangers and see the great potential of warmer ties. Israel’s decision on annexation will be an unmistakable signal of whether it sees it the same way,” he concluded.

Some of the text was tweeted in Hebrew by Hend Al Otaiba, Director of Strategic Communications at the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Responding to the article, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat tweeted that it is “a nice surprise reading a tweet in Hebrew” by a UAE official.

“Israel has extended its hand in peace to its neighbors since its creation. Peace is an opportunity for the whole Middle East, and provides potential for us all,” he underscored.

“The US Peace Initiative is a starting point to realize this vision,” he stressed.

Israel and the UAE do not have formal diplomatic relations.

However, Israel’s ties with several Arab countries have significantly advanced in recent years, openly and covertly, as shared strategic interests, and primarily confronting Iran’s advent in the region, have brought both sides to the same table.

The UAE has also reportedly sent a stern warning to the White House against giving a green light to Israel’s plans to annex parts of Judea and Samaria.

According to the US-formulated Deal of the Century peace plan, Israel can declare sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria from the beginning of July.

The US’ Deal of the Century peace plan, officially titled “Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and a Brighter Future,” calls for the Israeli annexation of some 30% of the territory in Judea and Samaria already under its control, with the remaining 70% becoming a Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected the plan even before its details were published.

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