UAE says Israeli annexation plan a 'serious setback'
The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Twitter that annexing lands sought by the Palestinians would harm the chances for regional peace.
"Any unilateral Israeli move will be a serious setback for the peace process," he wrote on Twitter.
He added that annexation would "constitute a rejection of the international & Arab consensus towards stability & peace".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to annex parts of the West Bank, including the strategic Jordan Valley and dozens of Israeli settlements considered illegal under international law.
He has signaled he will begin moving forward with annexation next month in line with President Donald Trump's Middle East plan unveiled earlier this year.
The Trump plan envisions leaving about one third of the West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967, under permanent Israeli control, while granting the Palestinians limited autonomy in the remainder of the territory. The Palestinians, who seek all of the West Bank as part of an independent state, have rejected the plan, saying it unfairly favors Israel.
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The annexation plan has come under harsh criticism from some of Israel's closest allies, who say that unilaterally redrawing the Mideast map would destroy any lingering hopes for establishing a Palestinian state and reaching a two-state peace agreement.
The UAE is among a group of Gulf Arab countries that does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel, but maintains close behind-the-scenes contacts. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf nations have in recent years seen increased normalisation of relations with Israel.
This group of countries are expected to play a key role in any potential Trump peace initiative in the region.
Saudi Arabia, another influential Gulf country, recently announced its "rejection" of Israel's annexation plans.
Jordan and Egypt, the only Arab countries with formal peace agreements with Israel, have also condemned the plan, while the Palestinians say they are no longer obligated to honor past agreements with Israel and have suspended security cooperation to protest annexation.
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