If every crisis presents an opportunity, then one opportunity that may emerge from the annexation issue – a crisis in the making – is that it may provide Israel with valuable leverage to use with those urging it not to go forward with the move.Like the United Arab Emirates, for example. In an unprecedented piece in Friday’s Yediot Aharonot, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, took his argument against annexation to the Israeli people, and appealed to their long-held desire to have normal relations with the countries of the region.“Annexation will certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and with UAE,” he wrote. Normal ties, he said, would look like this: “Greater security. Direct links. Expanded markets. Growing acceptance.”Normal, he continued, is not annexation: “In the UAE and across much of the Arab world, we would like to believe Israel is an opportunity, not an enemy. We face too many common dangers and see the great potential of warmer ties. Israel’s decision on annexation will be an unmistakable signal of whether it sees it the same way.”Okay, so let’s say that Israel heeds Otaiba’s advice, and does not extend its sovereignty over the lands in question. Then what can it expect from the UAE in return? The trick for Israel now will be leveraging what artfully could be presented as a concession into getting something in return.Wouldn’t it be significant, for example, if Otaiba would now address his own public, in Arabic – perhaps in the widely circulated UAE paper Al Khaleej – and both tell them how the two states cooperate, and why it is important for the UAE? Wouldn’t it be dramatic if he wrote there and in Arabic that “Israel is an opportunity, not an enemy”?Understandably, the tone of Otaiba’s piece is that Israel is thirsty for normalization, and has the most to gain from it. Certainly, Israel is very keen on improved relations with the Gulf states. But it is a two-way street, and that cooperation is also mighty helpful to the Gulf states as well in facing common enemies and threats, first and foremost Iran.Otaiba, who knows this well, alluded to this in his article, saying that Israel and the UAE share “common concerns about terrorism and aggression.”Israeli intelligence, security and business cooperation with Persian Gulf states, such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, is a well-known regional secret which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and other senior Israeli officials – hints at constantly. And while “everyone” seems to know that ties are taking place under the table – the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security’s Ephraim Inbar once quipped that under the table is a very busy place in the Middle East – the Arab partners in this dance have always wanted to keep it far from their publics’ view.As a result, every baby step toward normal ties – allowing commercial jets from India to Israel to fly over Saudi airspace, playing Israel’s national anthem after an Israeli competitor wins a judo competition in Abu Dhabi or hosting a multi-faith religious delegation from Bahrain in Jerusalem – are viewed as momentous events.But in return for not annexing – possibly because of not wanting to disturb ties with the Arab states – this may be the perfect time for Israel to say to its partners that they need to ante up, and that it is time for the Arab leaders who want this cooperation with the Jewish state to make it public.If the UAE is asking Israel not to annex because of these ties, doesn’t the Israeli public have the right to know the exact nature of those ties?But forget the Israeli public, the Israeli public here is secondary because Israelis, as Otaiba knows, want a relationship with the UAE. What is more important, from Jerusalem’s perspective, is that the Arab world – the cab driver in Manama, the college student in Dubai, the merchant in Riyadh – sees these ties as well.If the attitude toward Israel in the Arab world is to change – and not only among government leaders who understand full well how Israel benefits them – then it is imperative that the leadership take a role in changing attitudes of people who are still overwhelmingly and implacably hostile toward Israel. One way is to acknowledge to their publics that cooperation is taking place, and how their countries benefit from it.Showing the ties would go a long way toward getting the Arab public used to the idea of engaging with Israel. Up until now certain Persian Gulf countries have benefited handsomely from cooperation with Israel on their own terms: that the cooperation be quiet and under the table.But as some Persian Gulf leaders are now demanding that Jerusalem not annex parts of Judea and Samaria, something many Israelis believe is in their best interest, so as not to jeopardize nascent ties, Israel is in a position if it decides to heed those demands to make a counter demand: take these ties out of the closet as an important step in educating the Arab public – long indoctrinated to believe that Israel is the devil and dealing with it is treachery – that this is not the case.