Israel will likely take the concerns of the United Arab Emirates and other Arab nations into consideration when weighing plans to annex portions of the West Bank, assistant secretary for Near East Affairs David Schenker told Kan Radio on Monday morning.
“It is no secret that the Emirates and other states in the region are concerned about annexation. Israel has a number of decisions before it,” he said. “However Israel proceeds, it will do so while taking steps that will preserve the administration’s vision for peace. Israel has been in the past savvy with how it handles its relations with its Arab partners, so I am sure they will take all these factors into consideration."
He spoke in advance of US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s anticipated meeting at the White House this week to discuss approval of Israeli annexation plans.
There are only some eight days left until the July 1 date after which Israel can move on annexation according to the coalition agreement between the Likud and Blue and White parties.According to the peace plan that US President Donald Trump unveiled in January, Israel can annex up to 30% of the West Bank once a joint Israeli-US mapping process is complete. A US annexation map was published in January, but has never been updated. No final annexation plan has been presented either by the US or Israel.
The US wants an agreement by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz to any annexation plan.
Netanyahu wants to move forward with the 30%, while Gantz wants a phased annexation out of concern for Israel’s ties with the Arab world, particularly Jordan and Egypt.
Jordan and the UAE have been especially vocal on the topic, with UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef al Otaiba publishing an opinion piece in the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot warning that any Israeli annexation plan could destroy Israel’s normalization efforts with the Arab world.