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Top UAE Official Says Country Can Work With Israel Despite Disapproval of Annexation

AP:Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash speaks during a news conference on Yemen in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
AP:Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash speaks during a news conference on Yemen in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

JERUSALEM, Israel – A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official on Tuesday said his country’s opposition to Israel’s annexation plans shouldn’t hinder the UAE’s efforts to build a stronger relationship with the Jewish State.

“The UAE supports a two-state solution, supports negotiations and is against annexation,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash said during a video conference hosted by the American Jewish Committee.

Despite the UAE’s vehement disapproval of Israel’s annexation goals, Gargash emphasized his country’s policy of “decoupling the political from the non-political.”

“Can I have a political disagreement with Israel but at the same time try and bridge other areas of the relationship? I think I can. I think that is fundamentally where we are,” Gargash said.

"I think we can have a political disagreement with Israel and try to bridge other differences,” he continued.

The overwhelming majority of Arab nations in the Middle East refuse to engage with the Jewish State. Gargash said this hardline policy has failed to achieve “what we want in terms of bringing stability to the region.”

Instead, he believes closing the lines of communications between Israel and the Arab world has only radicalized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

“The idea of demonizing Arabs by radicals on the Israeli side, or the idea of demonizing Jews by radicals on the Arab side, has not helped anybody. We need to take that element out and we need to come and say we do have lines of communications.”

The UAE does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel like Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan. However, Gargash said his country has “led the way on having more normal relations with Israel.”

“What we see today is that negotiations, and having lines of communications open, actually will yield better results for us and for the Israelis,” he said.

The UAE’s public coordination with Israel was recently on display when the UAE sent two planes full of aid supplies for Palestinians directly to Israel. This was the first known time that a UAE commercial airline made direct flights to the Jewish State.

The Palestinian Authority, which opposes any efforts by Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel, rejected the aid supplies.

Gargash’s interview comes just days after Emirati Minister of State Yousef al-Otaiba’s wrote an op-ed in an Israeli newspaper warning the Israeli public that annexation jeopardizes the progress Israel has made with the UAE and other Arab states.

“Israeli plans for annexation and talk of normalization are a contradiction,” he wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth, arguing that “annexation will certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic, and cultural ties with the Arab world and with [the] UAE.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah on Tuesday held conference calls with members of the US Congress urging them to stop Israel’s annexation of land in the West Bank.

He said Israel’s unilateral plans threaten its peace treaty with Jordan, the Jordan News Agency reported.

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