The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has made a lot of noise about how their decision to normalize relations with Israel will also serve the cause of Palestinian nationalism. They likely need to in order to assuage some Arab anger over the deal. But at least one senior UAE official has clarified that normalization of relations with Israel was by no means conditioned on progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In fact, Omar Saif Ghobash last week told several media outlets, including Israel’s Ynet news portal, that his nation would no longer allow its own national interests to be hostage to the Palestinian cause.
Ghobash today serves as the UAE Assistant Minister of Cultural and Public Diplomacy. He was previously the UAE ambassador to France (2017), and before that served for eight years (2009-2017) as Abu Dhabi’s ambassador to Russia.
Speaking to Russia’s Sputnik News, Ghobash explained that the UAE has its own long-standing disputes with the Palestinian leadership related to “management, governance, and misappropriation of funds.”
“One of the reasons why we have decided to go ahead and make peace with the Israelis is because our interests can no longer be put behind the interests of these internal political disputes amongst the Palestinians,” the Emirati ambassador continued. “Once we have disconnected from the Palestinian cause, or the Palestinian side, then that kind of opens up the debate as to what we should do in our own interests.”
In an interview with Israel’s Ynet news portal, Ghobash added that the UAE will have “full relations with Israel and we intend to maximize them.” He repeated that those relations would not be hostage to the Palestinians’ internal problems, and hoped that the Israel-UAE deal would “shake up” the Palestinians and lead to real peace.
Oh, and Ghobash said he’s already studying Hebrew in preparation for his first visit to Tel Aviv.