Emirati FM Tweets New York Times Column Urging Palestinians Not to Reject Trump Plan

UAE minister posts Bret Stephens' opinion article, in which the journalist wrote that 'the Arab world has more important challenges to deal with than Palestinian statehood'

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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A man holds the daily Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper fronted by a picture of President Donald Trump, at a coffee shop in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 29, 2020. U.S.
A man holds the daily Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper fronted by a picture of President Donald Trump, at a coffee shop in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 29, 2020. U.S. Credit: AP Photo/Amr Nabil
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

The United Arab Emirates' foreign minister posted an article on Twitter Friday that urged the Palestinians not to reject the Trump administration's plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Minister Abdullah bin Zayed used his personal Twitter account to post a link to Bret Stephens' column in the New York Times headlined "Every Time Palestinians Say 'No,' They Lose," in which the journalist wrote that "nobody will benefit less from a curt dismissal of the plan than the Palestinians themselves, whose leaders are again letting history pass them by," and that "the Arab world has more important challenges to deal with than Palestinian statehood."

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The UAE was one of three Arab countries that sent an ambassador to the unveiling of the plan at the White House, along with Oman and Bahrain. These countries have forged quiet relationships in recent years with Israel, driven primarily by a shared animosity toward Iran. In July, Israel's foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, attended an international climate summit in the UAE.

United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed speaks during a news conference in Algiers, Algeria January 27, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to travel to Cairo for a meeting of the Arab League, where foreign ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss Trump's plan.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Wednesday that Trump's plan was "a great violation of the legitimate rights of Palestinians."

"Any serious plan to achieve peace must meet the expectations of both parties," Aboul Gheit said in a statement issued by the pan-Arab body.

Trump unveiled his plan for the Middle East on Tuesday, proposing the creation of a Palestinian state and Israeli control over Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley.

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Palestinians, who have boycotted the Trump administration since its December 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, were not involved in the plan's development.

The PA's Abbas rejected the Trump proposal, which strays from the 1967 borders that previously formed the basis for peace plans. The West Bank was captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and is considered an occupied territory by most of the international community.

"A just and sustainable peace cannot be achieved while ignoring the reality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967," Aboul Gheit said.

"We are open to any effort in order to achieve peace," he added.

But many Arab states rely on U.S. military aid or financial backing. Most are led by Sunni Muslim administrations that are aligned with the United States and Israel in confronting Iran's revolutionary Shi'ite theocracy.

Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization, said it was important to "hold the (Arab) states who were part of this charade to account" but that it wasn't likely to strengthen the Palestinians' hand.

In an opinion piece published Tuesday on Haaretz, she wrote: "We must now begin pressing to ensure that Israel faces consequences for continuing to deny us our freedom and steal our land, just as the South African anti-apartheid activists pushed for an end to South African apartheid.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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