Leaders of countries that made peace with Israel through the Abraham Accords have condemned Israeli police interventions to stop Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount, raising tensions in recent days between Israel and its new allies.
Sources in the region were also sympathetic to Israel’s struggle with Hamas and other Islamist terrorists in Gaza, though no official statements were released to that effect.
On Monday, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamad bin Zayed, leader of the United Arab Emirates, met with Jordanian Prime Minister Bishr al-Khasawneh to discuss Jerusalem, among other issues.
Zayed “expressed concern over the acts of violence in occupied East Jerusalem, which resulted in injuries among civilians,” the UAE’s official news service WAM reported. “He reiterated his condemnation of all forms of violence and hatred, which contravene with all human values and principles and underlined the importance of putting an end to all aggressions and practices that exacerbate tension and wrath in the sacred city, and to stop all acts that violate the sanctity of the Holy al-Aqsa Mosque.”
On Saturday, the UAE “strongly condemn[ed] the Israeli authorities’ storming of the Holy al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Bahrain’s cabinet in its weekly meeting on Monday “expressed its deep concern following the violence that has taken place in Jerusalem.” Manama also called on Israel to “de-escalate tensions... to avoid a regional drift toward instability.”
In Rabat, Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Sunday said he viewed Israeli “violations as an inadmissible act and likely to stir up tensions.” He is the chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee.
There was “frustration” in the Gulf, a former Trump administration official still involved in Israel-Gulf ties said, adding that Jerusalem is “complicated and confusing” and is viewed differently than Gaza.
“There’s universal dislike of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, who are seen as people looking to pervert Islam… by many people in the Abraham Accords and those who might join,” he said.
Similarly, a source involved in business between Israel and the Gulf found that when the center of violence was at al-Aqsa Mosque, “many were upset and said that places of worship are off limits, and they were upset with Israel. When it moved over to rockets, though, they were supportive of Israel and felt the Palestinians crossed the line. They are sensitive to rockets because the Houthis use them against [Saudi Arabia].”
The UAE’s leadership is unlikely to issue a statement condemning Hamas rockets out of concern over how the public will react, the source said, adding: “This is the first blow-up post-[Abraham] Accords, and you can feel in the air how they are treading very lightly.”
Emiratis expressed that dichotomy on social media between concern over Israeli police entering al-Aqsa Mosque and disdain for Hamas and other extremists.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s former minister of state for foreign affairs and currently a diplomatic adviser to the president, tweeted that his country “stands with the Palestinians’ right, with the end of the Israeli occupation, with the two-state solution, and with an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. This is a historic and principled position that does not budge.”
“How distressing the scandalous insults within the endless regional Arab civil wars and the exploitation of the suffering of the Palestinian people for narrow and unworthy calculations,” he added.
Unofficial but prominent Emirati social-media users made similar remarks.
UAE political analyst Majed al-Raeesi tweeted that if the entire world reached a consensus on how to address prayer rights on the Temple Mount, the Muslim Brotherhood’s factions, including Hamas, would still reject it, and “kindness will be met with offense.”
Faith and al-Aqsa are “greater than trading and raising the Hamas flag on it,” he added.
The former Trump administration official said Israel must do a better job at presenting its narrative.
“Allies are looking for information,” he said. “When there’s a vacuum, the prevailing argument is newspaper articles, and if Israel relies on newspaper articles to tell its story, it can just pack up and go. There needs to be a clear message. Israel needs to be better at articulating that message.”
Ideally, Israel could have briefed its new allies in advance about expected events in Jerusalem, such as how there is often an uptick in violence against Israelis around Ramadan, Jerusalem Day and Nakba Day and the possible ruling on the property dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah/Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, the official said.
The US State Department has been critical of Israel in recent days, he said, adding: “You can’t expect the UAE to be more pro-Israel than the USA.”