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Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash.(Photo by: REUTERS/NEIL HALL)
UAE Foreign Minister: Very wrong decision not to have contact with Israel
By ALON EINHORN
03/28/2019
If the Arab countries "continue the current trajectory, the conversation in 15 years’ time will really be about equal rights in one state."
The decision not to have contact with Israel was wrong, the United Arab Emirates' Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Anwar Gargash told the UAE-based The National on Wednesday.

Gargash claimed that the decision to ignore Israel and withhold any relations with it hindered and complicated the ability to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back,” Gargash told the paper.

Gargash spoke at a two-day conference named "Ideas Abu Dhabi" as he addressed the crowd on the Middle East, the US-China relations and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The minister also predicted increased contact between Arab countries and Israel, such as small deals and visits by different figures, like politicians and athletes, in the years ahead. But he also predicted a deeper “strategic shift” in relations, The National reported.

Gargash explained that if the Arab countries "continue the current trajectory, the conversation in 15 years time will really be about equal rights in one state," believing that they would not be able to reach a two-state solution.

“The strategic shift needs actually, for us, to progress on the peace front,” Gargash claimed. "I know that this conversation is there right now but it’s on the margins. But this conversation will shift because a two-state solution will no longer be feasible because a sort of reduced rump state will no longer be practical."

Gargash continued on the same line, saying that "the current trajectory we are seeing, I think 10 to 15 years, the discussion will be what is the nature of the Israeli state, what are the rights of the Palestinians within that Israeli state, should they be equal citizens, is it sustainable that they are not equal citizens?”

Currently, Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries with which Israel has formal diplomatic relations.

Lately however, a shift has taken place in the Arab-Israeli relations as the President of Chad, Idriss Déby made a historic visit to Israel in November, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman in October, and Netanyahu's participated in the Warsaw Summit in February, as Arab countries' leaders joined Israel and the United States in speaking against Iran.
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