United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba said that the UAE is "powerless" to stop Israel from applying its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria as the period in which Israel agreed not to apply sovereignty under the Abraham Accords comes to an end.
Ambassador al-Otaiba made the remarks during an event marking the third anniversary of the Abraham Accords in Washington DC yesterday (Wednesday).
"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,” he said, adding that "there’s very little that the UAE can do at this moment to shape what happens inside Israel" if the government goes down the path of sovereignty.
The Abraham Accords were signed in September 2020. The Israeli government had been strongly considering applying sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria when the UAE reached out to negotiate a normalization agreement with the Jewish State. Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan also joined the accords, and Israel agreed not to apply sovereignty until 2024.
Al-Otaiba said that a form of de-facto annexation "is happening in a way that is not visible and is going to make coming back to a two-state solution even more challenging."
The UAE ambassador also praised the Abraham Accords and the development of the Israel-UAE relationship in the three years since the accords were signed.
"We were starting from zero. We were starting with a relationship that had no trade, that had no flights, that had no business, that had no connectivity. And so, within three years, the numbers, the indicators, the levels that we have reached are from zero, are from a standing start," he said.
"We are now just starting to pick up. I think we've built a foundation in the last three years. We've signed MOUs (memorandums of understanding). We've created things that didn't exist like civil aviation agreements, agreements between central banks. Basically, in the first three years, we've signed 120 MOUs between the UAE and Israel," he added.
Ambassador al-Otaiba said that he is "surprised by how quickly the two countries and societies have accepted each other culturally. I am surprised by the lack of animosity and that people are having Jewish Orthodox weddings in Dubai and people are being welcomed in both places."
The panel was hosted by the N7 Initiative, an organization which seeks to expand cooperation between Israel and Arab and Muslim countries.