Stopping Israeli plans to ‘apply sovereignty’ to wide swathes of Palestinian territory in the West Bank was a key motivation in Abu Dhabi’s decision to normalise ties with Israel, Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US, has said.
“The truth is that the Abraham Accords were about preventing annexation. The reason it happened, the way it happened, at the time it happened was to prevent annexation,” al-Otaiba said on Monday, while addressing a virtual panel on US policy for the Middle East hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an AIPAC-sponsored think tank.
“I had a lot of conversations with the folks in the White House before the Abraham Accords - trying to explain to them that annexation is not going to be like moving the Embassy, it’s not going to be like the Golan decision,” the ambassador said, referring respectively to Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there, and the US recognition of Israeli-occupied Syrian territories as part of Israel.
“This is going to have a profoundly negative impact on the region, specifically on our friends in Jordan, on the rest of us who have begun opening up with Israel,” the envoy said, recalling what he told US officials. “So for me – the guy who negotiated this deal - this was really about stopping annexation and saving the two-state solution.”
Al-Otaiba dismissed suggestions that Abu Dhabi had sold out the Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims, saying “on the contrary”, the normalisation pact was aimed at preventing a “disaster” of a “one-state solution".
‘Stab in the Back’
Officials in the Palestinian territories, Iran, Syria, and protesters in countries around the Middle East blasted the UAE and Bahrain over their decision to sign the Abraham Accords with Israel in September, describing the move as a “betrayal” akin to being “stabbed in the back”.
The accords were joined by Sudan and Morocco in the final months of Trump’s tenure as president, with Khartoum rewarded by being removed from America’s state sponsors of terrorism list. Rabat, on the other hand, has reportedly received consideration for billions in investment.