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Israel ‘embarrassed’ UAE, so no other Arab state will normalise ties 

May 23, 2023 at 2:23 pm

President and Founder of the Emirates Policy Center Ebtesam Al-Ketbi attends the TRT World Forum 2022 in Istanbul, Turkiye on December 09, 2022 [Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

After the UAE was “embarrassed” by Israel, no further Arab state is likely to normalise relations with Tel Aviv, a senior Emirati policy analyst is reported as saying at the Herzliya Conference at Israel’s Reichman University.

“The latest government in Israel will not kill the Abraham Accords, the signatories will not pull out, but we will not have other signatories,” said Dr Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, the founder and president of the Emirates Policy Centre. “We were looking to engage more from the Arab world and the non-Arab world… [but] the latest government is putting everybody off.”

Haaretz reported that Al-Ketbi continued by commenting on the humiliation inflicted on the UAE by Israel. “My government and the other signatories are embarrassed in front of the Arab people, and they have to say something. And they want a solution for that because they invested heavily in the Abraham Accords. It’s a big loss for Israel when the Saudis side with Iran.”

OPINION: Normalisation has included the deliberate humiliation of the UAE

It’s not clear which disagreement between the UAE and Israel Al-Ketbi was referring to as the source of Abu Dhabi’s embarrassment. Since it normalised relations with the apartheid state in 2020, Israel has continued to entrench its illegal occupation of Palestine and gone on to elect the most far-right government in its history of far-right governments.

Preventing Israel from annexing the West Bank was one of the reasons cited by the UAE to justify its decision to normalise ties with Israel. Instead of pausing annexation, though, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has handed control of the occupied West Bank to extreme far-right members of his coalition.

The desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has also become a source of frustration. In the lead up to last November’s Israeli election, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed expressed concern about the growing influence of Ben-Gvir, who was seen brandishing a gun and threatening to shoot Palestinians. The UAE has issued repeated condemnations since then of the provocations by Israeli ministers. Relations soured in January when Netanyahu postponed his visit to Abu Dhabi following anger over the desecration of Al-Aqsa by members of his coalition.

In the three years since the signing of the Abraham Accords, public support for normalising ties with Israel has declined sharply in the Gulf. When first polled in 2020, attitudes in the UAE and Bahrain, which also has normalised relations with Israel, were effectively split as to whether they saw the agreement in a positive or negative light. Two years later, the percentage of those who see the agreement in a positive light is said to hover between 19 per cent to 25 per cent in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.

The poll was conducted before Israel elected its most extreme far-right government in history. Netanyahu rewarded Ben-Gvir, a disciple of the Israeli terrorist who massacred 29 Palestinians at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in 1994, and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, another extremist who incited terrorism against Palestinians by calling for them to be “wiped out”, with senior positions in his cabinet.

The decision by Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore ties following China-brokered talks is seen as a sign that the Abraham Accords have run out of steam.

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