Merkley Statement on Israel/UAE Relations and Annexation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after Israel, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that Israel and the UAE would establish formal diplomatic relations and Israel would halt planned annexations in the West Bank:

“Today’s news marks a significant step in Israel’s relations with the Arab world, and I welcome the formal normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

“I am heartened to see that this deal suspends Israeli plans to annex territory in the West Bank. That would be a disastrous blow to the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state. U.S. and Israeli interests in peace, security, and democracy in the region depend on preserving the space for a negotiated solution that supports the self-determination of both Israelis and Palestinians.

“It is good to see disaster averted. Nonetheless, the halting of annexation only looks like a diplomatic breakthrough in the context of an annexation policy that was emboldened in the first place by the Trump ‘peace plan’ giving a green light to this reckless policy.

“We should also be clear-eyed that closer relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates stem from mutual concern regarding Iran’s role in the region. I share those concerns and believe the United States should work with allies and partners on a diplomatic strategy to rein in Iran’s nuclear program and other malign activities. Sadly, the Trump administration’s reckless action in ending an international deal led by the United States that reined in Iran’s nuclear program is making the region more dangerous and making another unnecessary and catastrophic war in the Middle East more likely.”