A minister of the United Arab Emirates has urged Israel to stop its plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, warning of a serious setback for the so-called Middle East peace process.
"Continued Israeli talk of annexing Palestinian lands must stop," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a tweet on Monday.
"Any unilateral Israeli move will be a serious setback for the peace process, undermine Palestinian self determination & constitute a rejection of the international & Arab consensus towards stability & peace," he added.
Gargash’s remarks come while the UAE and other Persian Gulf Arab states largely voiced support for US President Donald Trump’s controversial plan on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Israeli regime’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley have been envisaged in Trump’s so-called "deal of the century" which the Palestinians have rejected.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would start plans for annexing more areas in the occupied West Bank on July 1, in accordance with Trump’s scheme, further infuriating Palestinians.
Israel and the UAE do not have formal diplomatic relations, but have long had clandestine contacts, according to many reports.
In recent years, the UAE — along with other Gulf Arab states — has made several overt moves for warmer ties with the Tel Aviv regime, including letting in Israeli athletes and officials.
Last year, Israel's former foreign minister Israel Katz visited Abu Dhabi. A year earlier, the regime’s sports minister flew to the UAE capital where she went on a public tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
The American president officially unveiled his scheme in January at the White House with Netanyahu on his side, while Palestinian representatives were not invited.
The proposal gives in to Israel’s demands while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders, enshrining the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allowing the regime to annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.
Trump's highly provocative scheme, which further denies the right of return to Palestinian refugees, is also in complete disregard of UN Security Council resolutions and rejected by the vast majority of the international community.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. But Israel's aggressive settlement expansion and annexation plans have dealt a serious blow to any prospects of peace.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
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