While most Islamic and Arab as well as other states strongly condemned Israeli atrocities against civilians in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, Abu Dhabi adopted a low-key approach toward the latest round of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people.
Though countries like Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have all denounced Israel over its bombing of the besieged enclave – which may amount to war crimes in light of its targeting of non-military sites – others have opted to remain silent.
Countries that normalized relations with the occupation state last year have sat on the fence while rockets rained down on Gaza. The UAE, which led the anti-Palestinian normalization drive, is said to be the most hostile to showing sympathy to the Palestinian cause.
The extent of the hostility towards Palestinians by the two Gulf monarchies, in particular, has drawn criticism. The hashtag “Palestine is not my cause” circulated in the UAE and Bahrain over the weekend. It’s thought to be a state-backed response to Israel’s bombing of Gaza.
Citing Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Reuters that the United Arab Emirates has recently announced it stands ready to facilitate peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan made the comments in a telephone call with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose country, with US support, brokered a ceasefire on Friday that ended the fiercest fighting in years between Israel and Hamas.
The UAE, which last year normalized ties with Israel, “is ready to work with all parties to maintain the ceasefire and explore new paths to reduce escalation and achieve peace”, state news agency WAM cited Sheikh Mohammed as saying.
Bin Zayed stressed however the need for “additional efforts, especially by Israeli and Palestinian leaders”.
Last year’s normalization deals signed by the UAE and Bahrain, followed by Sudan and Morocco, were denounced by the Palestinians as abandoning a unified position under which Arab states would make peace only under a two-state solution, negotiations for which have been deadlocked for years.
The UAE, which distrusts political Islamist groups like Hamas, has said the “Abraham Accords” would ultimately benefit the Palestinians.
UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba said last month that the establishment of formal channels under the accords would allow the Gulf state to play a similar diplomatic role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Egypt and Jordan, which have peace deals with Israel.
Anger and frustration among public opinion in the Arab world has been directed at the United Arab Emirates for their inaction on the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. These two states, along with their allies such as Bahrain, have largely refrained from providing support, at least morally, to the besieged people of Gaza.
The UAE, which normalized relations with Israel last year, remained silent on the Israeli war on Gaza. Instead, it expressed sympathy with what it called “victims” in Israel. To apparently balance its position, the UAE also dryly voiced sympathy with the Palestinians fallen victims to the Israeli warmongering.
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a belated statement on the crisis in Palestine saying that he was concerned about the violence there.
He “has expressed the UAE’s grave concern over the escalating spiral of violence in Israel and Palestine and offered condolences to all victims of the recent fighting,” according to the UAE Foreign Ministry’s statement.
“The UAE is alarmed by the escalating spiral of violence in Israel and Palestine. We express our condolences to all victims of the recent fighting, and join others in calling for an immediate cessation of violence and hostilities. The UAE calls on all parties to take immediate steps to commit to a ceasefire, initiate a political dialogue, and exercise maximum restraint,” the chief Emirati diplomat continued.
The statement equated the Palestinians with the Israelis as if it were the Palestinians who are occupying and besieging the Israelis. In fact, Israel bears ultimate responsibility for what’s happening in Palestine.
The latest round of fighting began after Israel moved to evict Palestinian families from their ancestral homes in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, something that left the Palestinians with no option but to hit back.
Also, Israel’s provocative move in desecrating Muslim sanctities in al-Quds (Jerusalem) plays a major role in provoking the Palestinians to push back against Israel. Israel killed defenseless children and women in Gaza and desecrated places of sanctity for Muslims in Jerusalem (al-Quds) especially the al-Aqsa Mosque, which stands as the first Qiblah (direction of prayer) and the third-holiest site in Islam.
But all this apparently was not enough for the UAE to take a stand against Israel. Abu Dhabi has been increasingly tilting toward Israel since it normalized relations with Tel Aviv. In the beginning, it was thought that the UAE normalized relations with Israel under pressure from the Trump administration. But now that Israel blatantly violates human rights in Palestine, the UAE showed that its decision to establish ties with Israel goes far beyond Trump’s pressures.
The Emirati indifference to the Palestinians’ sufferings sparked outrage on social media platforms in the Arab world. It also cast doubts over its announcement of readiness to mediate between Palestinians and Israel with respect to peace efforts.