Arab governments have warned Israel that plans to annex the West Bank will trigger violence and regional instability. Unilateral annexation could happen as early as July 1, but European states, the United Nations, the Arab League and senior members of the U.S. Democratic Party say the move will harm chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Jordan is only one of two Arab countries, along with Egypt, to have signed peace treaties with Israel and it supports the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
The kingdom has made clear to Israel that it risks a harsh response to even a limited annexation of West Bank land. It has threatened to annul or downgrade its 1994 peace treaty with Israel, if the annexation goes ahead. King Abdullah II has made his concerns about the possible ramifications known to European leaders and Washington, where he is well respected as a key U.S. ally in the region.
Jordanian analyst Osama Al Sharif tells VOA that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu’s plan is “very divisive” not only among Israel’s society and security communities, but also within the U.S. administration and elsewhere.
“It’s a can of worms and people wonder why Netanyahu would have taken such a controversial step when Israel remains an occupation force in control of the West Bank, Jordan Valley, borders, anything that goes in and out of the Occupied Territories and it was still being treated as a normal state by Europe and rest of the world,” he said. “Why take that risk against Israel of possible sanctions, especially from Europe, for being in violation from the Geneva Accords and international resolutions?”
Al Sharif warns that even an initial limited annexation of one or two Jewish settlements on the West Bank will jeopardize warming ties between Israel and Gulf Arab powerhouses, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“The Gulf position: Normalization was going on behind closed doors progressively and now they are in a jam, a deadlock. They cannot condone annexation and continue normalization with Israel,” he said.
But Middle East analyst Theodore Karasik at Gulf State Analytics told VOA that despite public condemnation by the UAE or Saudi Arabia of Israel’s annexation plans, these Arab states in the Gulf will likely want to maintain ties with Israel.
“Iran is one of the key motivators of this policy, because the thinking is the UAE, Saudi, and Israel are more formidable together against Iran. The long-term threat from Iranian ballistic and cruise missiles, plus a nuclear program makes them nervous,” he said.
These countries share growing concerns over Iran’s mounting military activities in the region.