Barely twelve months ago, it was impossible to imagine an Israeli government official addressing an Arab audience in an Arab country, let alone one vowing to deny Palestinian statehood. But that’s exactly what happened when Israel’s Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked met with her counterpart, Sheikh Saif bin al-Nahyan, in front of reporters at Dubai Expo 2020 on October 6.
“The Israeli government won’t deliberate on the establishment of a Palestinian state under the present government of Bennett or [foreign minister] Lapid when he comes into office under the rotational agreement,” she told UAE-based outlet The National. “There is a consensus among the parties not to get involved in the issue, which could cause an internal rift.”
“The Israeli government won’t deliberate on the establishment of a Palestinian state under the present government.”
Shaked, who commonly refers to Palestinian babies as “snakes” and once called for a Palestinian genocide, also smeared the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as “anti-Semitic” during her interview, while also encouraging the UAE to train Palestinian imams in “moderation.”
The blatant and shameless hypocrisy of an advocate for genocide calling for “moderation” was not only lost on her but also her Emirati hosts, who welcomed her with open arms to mark the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords. The agreements normalized Israel’s occupation and system of apartheid in the Palestinian Territories among various Arab states, including the UAE.
A “normalization” of diplomatic ties also means the normalization of Zionism and the ethno-nationalist movement’s racist demagoguery. The normalization too gives license to hate mongers, like Shaked, who has even been denounced by leftist Israelis, including Mira Bar Hilel, who said that behind her “wide-eyed innocent face lurks the Angel of Death.”
More than anything, however, Shaked’s vow to deny Palestinian statehood during her visit to Dubai further exposes the UAE’s deceitful motives as they relate to the Abraham Accords. Indeed, on the day of their signing in Washington, the UAE promised to “remain an ardent and consistent supporter of the Palestinian people – for their dignity, their rights and their own sovereign state.”
Shaked’s vow to deny Palestinian statehood during her visit to Dubai further exposes the UAE’s deceitful motives as they relate to the Abraham Accords.
More recently, Anwar Gargash, an adviser to UAE President and Emir of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zayed Al Nahyen, declared his country maintains a “historic and principled position that does not budge.”
Gargash must now explain why the UAE has not denounced the Israel Interior Minister’s comments. Though he won’t because “normalizing” diplomatic ties with Israel was never about the Palestinians. It was only ever about getting closer to Washington and gaining access to American and Israeli weapons systems, surveillance technologies, and markets.
But rather than bring “peace to the entire region,” as the UAE promised the Abraham Accords would, the Israel-Emirates alliance has brought only further despair to the long-suffering Palestinians, more violence to the Middle East, and more repression to Emirati citizens and residents, particularly journalists, human rights defenders, and critics of the government.
Palestinians remain stateless, displaced, and denied basic human rights. They also have been subjected to violent home and land evictions, and more frequent attacks by settlers in the occupied territories during the past year. In Gaza, an 11-day Israeli bombing campaign in May left 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, dead and hundreds more injured.
Palestinians remain stateless, displaced, and denied basic human rights.
None of this, of course, prevented the UAE from taking receipt of $23 billion worth of US weapons, including the advanced F-35 fighter jet, armed drones, and other equipment.
In exchange for throwing the Palestinians under the proverbial bus, UAE officials also received access to the hacking software Pegasus, sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, which the UAE used against thousands of targets, including journalists, human rights defenders, and geopolitical opponents.
Emirati Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum also ordered the hacking of six phones belonging to his estranged wife Princess Haya bint al-Hussein in the United Kingdom.
But beyond the sharing of weapons and intelligence gathering methods, the Emirati-Israeli alliance has also embarked on a project to dominate and control the Middle East’s most strategic territorial assets and shipping lanes, starting with their annexation of Yemen’s Socotra Island.
Located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, overlooking the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and connecting the Red Sea to both the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, Socotra island, combined with other Emirati bases in the Horn of Africa, offers unparalleled geopolitical advantages.
The two countries have reached an agreement to share control of the UNESCO-listed island for the purpose of expanding their shared military intelligence operations at Socotra’s airport, according to Yemeni and Iranian news outlets.
Then there’s the way the alliance has brought further misery to citizens and residents of the UAE, with Israeli spy tools used to track and detain critics and opponents of the Emirati government. Furthermore, the arrival of thousands of Israeli sex tourists is contributing to an exacerbation of the country’s human trafficking nightmare, with a majority of Dubai’s 45,000 sex workers estimated to have been coerced or forced into the illicit trade.
“Visiting Dubai is like sitting on the sidelines to a gang rape,” observes the Israeli English language newspaper Haaretz.
Shaked announced, that on October 10 visa-free travel between the UAE and Israel would begin.
From the Emirati government’s perspectives, however, Israeli tourists represent an exciting new market, as they typically bring more cash into the country than their Middle Eastern counterparts, spending more on hotels, shopping, and dining. Confirming this expansion of ties trend, during her trip to Dubai, Shaked announced, that on October 10 visa-free travel between the UAE and Israel would begin.
For all the above reasons, the Emirati government welcomed and embraced an Israeli government official who refers to Palestinian babies as “snakes” and vows to put an end to Palestinian statehood aspirations.
“I experienced today what true peace is,” Shaked told Israel Hayom during her Dubai visit. “The administration has gone out of its way to make it clear that a real partnership has been forged between the countries. I see great importance in strengthening the strategic relationship between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” she added.
“Peace” for the Palestinian people, alas, has never looked so far away.