update deskMiddle East

UAE envoy: Powerless to stop Israel from applying sovereignty

The Emirates' ambassador to the U.S. said the Israeli commitment to suspend sovereignty plans for Judea and Samaria expires in 2024.

UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba. Credit: Courtesy.
UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba. Credit: Courtesy.

Abu Dhabi is powerless to stop Israel from exercising sovereignty over Judea and Samaria communities as the commitment ends next year, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an event in Washington marking the third anniversary of the Abraham Accords, Yousef Al Otaiba said that “our deal was based on a certain time period, and that time period is almost done, and so we have no ability to leverage the decisions that are made outside of the period that was what the Abraham Accords was based on.”

As part of the U.S.-brokered agreement signed in September 2020 that normalized Israel’s relations with the UAE, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to suspend plans to annex communities in Judea and Samaria.

The Trump administration reportedly assured the UAE that the U.S. would not recognize Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria until 2024 at the earliest.

“… if they are to take that particular approach … there’s very little that the UAE can do at this moment to shape what happens inside Israel,” the Emirati envoy said.

Asked about Israel’s current policies in Judea and Samaria, which critics refer to as “de facto annexation,” Al Otaiba said that it was occurring in “a way that is not visible,” adding that it would “make coming back to a two-state solution even more challenging.”

The panel discussion featuring Al Otaiba was hosted by the N7 Initiative—a partnership between the Atlantic Council and Jeffrey M. Talpins Foundation focused on increasing integration efforts between Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbors.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier on Wednesday that a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia could not come at the expense of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking on the “Pod Save the World” podcast, Blinken said, “Normalization, any of the efforts that are going on to improve relations between Israel and its neighbors, are not, cannot be a substitute for Israel and the Palestinians resolving their differences and having a much better future for Palestinians. And in our judgment, of course, that… needs to involve a two-state solution.”

He went on to say that progress with regard to the Palestinians was important to Riyadh, too.

“It’s also clear from what we hear from the Saudis that if this process is to move forward, the Palestinian piece is going to be very important,” Blinken said.

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