With just over two weeks since the UAE normalised relations with Israel, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), one of the oldest and amongst the most influential pro-Israel lobby groups in the US, has announced that it is opening an office in the Gulf kingdom, making it the first of its kind in the Middle East.
Relations between the AJC and the UAE have been blossoming over the years with the pro-Israel lobby group’s delegation visiting the UAE at least once a year for the past two decades, holding meetings and consultations with Emirati and US officials.
UAE officials used the AJC’s platforms to present their position on cooperation with Israel. The country’s Ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, and its Foreign Minister, Anwar Gargash, are said to be among officials from the Gulf state who have spoken at AJC events.
AJC is one of the most hawkish pro-Israeli lobby groups in the US. Founded in 1906, the group often takes a hard-line approach to politics in the Middle East. Following the devastating explosion in Lebanon, as international donors pledged millions of dollars, the AJC urged world leaders in a tweet to condition their support on the disarmament of Hezbollah. It’s remark, condemned as an attempt to “blackmail” Lebanon at a moment of crises, was later deleted.
An article in the Jerusalem Post has suggested that the UAE views American pro-Israeli lobby groups as a conduit to the White House. “A key reason that Arab states strive for ties with Israel is their desire to benefit from Israel’s influence with the US administration,” said the Post explaining Abu Dhabi’s decision to normalise relations with Israel.
Security consideration has been cited as one of the major reasons for the UAE breaking ranks with its Arab neighbours. Abu Dhabi’s insistence that the normalisation deal prevented further annexation of Palestinian territory has been met with dismay not least because the Israelis have said the pause in further annexation, which is illegal to begin with, is only temporary.
Opponents of the deal have argued that it does nothing of the sort and instead helps Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right cement their position. The Likud leader has always maintained that he could force Arab countries to reverse the “land for peace” formula – which has been the bedrock of any solution – by normalising ties with Arab autocrats without giving an inch of occupied land back to the Palestinians.