In an effort to directly reach out to Israelis, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba published an opinion piece in the largest Hebrew daily, Yediot Aharonot.
By TOVAH LAZAROFF – The Jerusalem Post
In an effort to directly reach out to Israelis, he published an opinion piece in the largest Hebrew daily, Yediot Aharonot. Al Otaiba followed that with a video message in the English language news service The National.
“All the progress that you have seen, and exchanges and openings, could be undermined, by one simple step,” he continued.
“I wanted to make sure people understood, how we saw this possibility and the risks associated with it,” he said.
“There is opportunity for sure, that has potential in the coming years, as attitudes shirt toward Israel. But this could be a set back for all of those things, and especially for Israelis who are so keen on opening relationships with new Arab countries, that they don’t currently have relationships with,” Al Otaiba said.
“So I wanted to make sure people understood the risks associated with this decision, beyond the immediate consequences of what happens on the Israeli-Palestinian track.
“I think these decisions tend to be made in a very limited domestic political lens,” said Al Otaiba, as he explained that steps taken for internal domestic reasons could have significant regional impact.
“Sometimes we don’t think of the secondary or tertiary consequences of how other countries or certain platforms will react, what could happen in a street or a country far away from Israel,” Al Otaiba said.
“I wanted to make sure that was part of the conversation and I wanted to make sure that was part of the conversation with the Israeli public,” he said.”
In his piece in Yehdiot Ahronot, he spoke in specific about the impact on neighboring Jordan.
Annexation, he warned, “will spark violence and arouse extremism. It will send tidal waves across the region. It will primarily affect Jordan, the same Jordan whose stability – which is sometimes taken for granted – benefits the entire region and Israel in particular.”
The Yediot Ahronot article was retweeted by UAE Foreign Ministry’s director of strategic communications, Hend Al Otaiba with a Hebrew quote from the article.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat tweeted in response.
“What a nice surprise reading a tweet in Hebrew. 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,” Haiat wrote.
“The US Peace Initiative is a starting point to realize this vision,” he added.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov retweeted the video Al Otaiba made for The National, stating that his words were an “Important message.”
The ambassador is at least the second UAE official to speak out about annexation this month. UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash tweeted that “Any unilateral Israeli move will be a serious setback for the peace process, undermine Palestinian self-determination [and] constitute a rejection of the international [and] Arab consensus towards stability [and] peace.”
Gargash is expected to address the American Jewish Committee’s Virtua Global Forum next week.