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UAE tells Arab states to establish ties with Israel

Gargash said not having contact with Israel is 'very, very wrong' [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 March, 2019

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A senior official in the UAE has called on Arab states to be more open with Israel, expecting more contact between the two rivaling parties to be established.
A senior UAE minister has called on Arab states to be more open with Israel, paving the way for the two countries to cement closer ties.

Emirati Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, expressed his regret for not having formal relations or contact with Israel in the past, the decision which he described as "very, very wrong".

Anwar Gargashtold told the Emirati daily, The National, that relations between Arab countries and Israel need to change to achieve progress and peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"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," said Gargash.

"Because clearly, you have to really dissect and divide between having a political issue and keeping your lines of communication open."

Gargash also appeared to rule out two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

"What we are facing, if we continue on the current trajectory, I think the conversation in 15 years' time will really be about equal rights in one state," he added.

"A two-state solution will no longer be feasible because a sort of reduced rump (Palestinian) state will no longer be practical," said Gargash.

Gargash's comments come after the UAE and other Gulf states criticised US President Donald Trump's recognition this week of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Only two Arab nations - Egypt and Jordan - have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

Relations between Israel and some Arab countries have recently been more cordial and seen more rapprochement.

Last year, in a surprising move, an Israeli cabinet minister visited Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque

This was followed by a visit by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Oman, the first of its kind in 22 years.

Last month Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner visited Gulf Arab states, which host US troops and constitute an important ally for Washington's regional defence policy.

Gargash expects more contact between Arab states and Israel through small bilateral deals and visits by politicians as well as athletic delegations. 

Israel's national anthem was played in an Abu Dhabi last October when Israeli athletes won gold in the judo competition.

Israel views Arab states as allies against its archfoe Iran. However, many in the Arab world resist following Jordan's and Egypt's suit while the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is ongoing.

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